Unrest in Kazakhstan has attracted the attention of the wider region, including neighbouring Russia and China, as well as Western powers, as protests turn deadly.
Kazakh officials said on Thursday that dozens of anti-government protesters in the main city of Almaty had been killed, claiming they had attempted to storm government offices and police stations overnight.
State television reported that 13 members of Kazakhstan’s security forces had also died, including two who had been decapitated.
The developments marked a significant escalation of the continuing political crisis in the vast Central Asian nation, which began during the weekend with protests against a doubling in the cost of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
Here’s how the world has reacted so far:
Russia has sent troops to its ally Kazakhstan as part of a peacekeeping force deployed by the Moscow-headed Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) at the request of Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who has accused foreign-trained “terrorist gangs” of driving the unrest.
“Peacekeeping forces of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation were sent to the Republic of Kazakhstan for a limited time to stabilise and normalise the situation,” the CSTO secretariat said in a statement on Thursday.
According to Eurasianet, this marks the first time CSTO’s collective security provision has been exercised.
Military units from fellow CSTO member states Armenia, Belarus, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan were also being sent, the secretariat said. However, the organisation, of which Kazakhstan is also a member, did not disclose the overall size of the force being deployed.
Separately on Thursday, Moscow said it would consult Kazakhstan and other allies on possible further moves to support the “counter-terrorist” operation there and echoed Kazakhstan’s claim that the protests were the result of foreign intervention.
“We regard the recent events in a friendly country as an attempt, inspired from the outside, to undermine the security and integrity of the state by force, using trained and organised armed formations,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.
The United Nations has urged political leaders and protesters in Kazakhstan to refrain from violence.
Speaking to reporters in New York on Wednesday, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the world body was monitoring the unfolding situation.
“It’s very important for all involved in these current events to exercise restraint, refrain from violence & promote dialogue,” he said.
The 27-member European Union has called on Russia to respect Kazakhstan’s sovereignty and independence as Moscow deploys paratroopers to the former Soviet republic.
The European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, also urged restraint on all sides.
“The violence must be stopped. We are also calling for restraint from all parties and a peaceful resolution of the situation. Now obviously, the EU is ready and willing to support a dialogue in the country,” an EU spokesperson said on Thursday.
Washington said it is “closely following” the situation and called for authorities and protesters to exercise restraint.
“We ask for all Kazakhstanis to respect and defend constitutional institutions, human rights, and media freedom, including through the restoration of internet service,” Department of State spokesman Ned Price said in a statement on Wednesday, citing a reported nationwide internet blackout.
“We urge all parties to find a peaceful resolution of the state of emergency,” he added.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki dismissed claims that the US was driving the protests in Kazakhstan – allegations she accused Moscow of spreading.
“There are some crazy Russian claims about the US being behind this, so let me just use this opportunity to convey that as absolutely false and clearly a part of the standard Russian disinformation playbook we’ve seen a lot of in past years,” she told reporters at a news briefing.
China, which shares a border with Kazakhstan, said the situation was an “internal affair”.
“China believes that the Kazakh authorities can solve the problem properly,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters on Thursday, adding Beijing hoped the situation would stabilise soon.
Since becoming independent in 1991, Kazakhstan has sought good ties with China, which receives most of its oil exports.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the United Kingdom is “concerned” by the escalating unrest.
Speaking in Parliament on Thursday, Truss said, “Our thoughts are with those who have lost their lives in what has happened, and we condemn the acts of violence and destruction of property in Almaty.”
Truss added the UK government would be “coordinating further” with its allies to decide on possible further steps.
France has urged restraint from all parties in Kazakhstan, including the troops deployed by the CSTO, and called the reports of bloodshed in Almaty “extremely worrying”.
“We urge all parties – both in Kazakhstan and within framework of the CSTO – to show moderation and open a dialogue,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters in Paris on Thursday.