The disintegration of the Russian Federation (Soviet Union) has led to the emergence of various new Central Asian Republics (CARs), such as Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and many others. The CARs are on the path of economic development and playing a pivotal role in regional integration. They are also full of natural resources and can provide these resources, such as gas and oil, to other regional countries.

Economically, the CARs are very strong. Kazakhstan is one of them, having strong economic indicators.

Under the leadership of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan has managed to maintain a delicate interethnic balance and foster stability in the region. The country has been actively increasing the agenda of the Russian-Chinese-backed SCO to accomplish strategic objectives. This article highlights various geopolitical aspects of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy and its approach to dealing with regional issues.

The Kazakh President has taken drastic steps to attract foreign investment across the country further. Also, the decision to relocate the capital city to Astana has been widely interpreted as a strategic maneuver to counter likely and potential Russian territorial aspirations. Central Asian countries are adamant about maintaining peace and security on their own and in the region by keeping the balance of power at par. The location of the new capital city of the country Astana (closer to Russia) was intended to serve as a geopolitical buffer to accomplish political and strategic objectives.

Kazakhstan’s foreign policy posture has been asserting its sovereignty over a region with a significant ethnic Russian population.

Kazakhstan is a pivotal CAR, having no hostile agenda and instead focused on the region’s economic development and integration. The only direct threat the country faces is from Putin’s Russia, which is tactical in nature. Despite facing strategic threats, the probability of a direct Russian military threat is limited due to Astana’s extensive and active foreign policy.

Economically speaking, the President of Kazakhstan has secured foreign direct investment from various countries, which made Russia think a hundred times before launching any attack on Astana.

Likewise, the international community has appreciated positive foreign and economic policy directions. As per the economic report 2023 published by the Kazakh Trade Ministry, the country has received $169.2 billion in foreign investment. Countries like the US, China, Russia, and other European states have invested immensely in Kazakhstan’s various sectors. This influx of capital has fortified the country’s economic resilience and international standing, making outright aggression less appealing for any single actor.

Kazakhstan has a caldron of economic activities in Central Asia, creating more economic opportunities for other countries.  Many regional and global states are keen to invest to secure better opportunities in the country’s economic market. The export sector of Kazakhstan has been witnessing a massive increase in the past few years, particularly in the post-Covid era, which shows how effectively economic policies are working. As per a government report in 2022, Kazakhstan exported petrol valued at $47.6 billion. China is the largest importer of Kazakh oil and gas industry.

The role of Astana as a major wheat producer, exporting to neighbors such as Iran and Turkey and East Asian markets like China, South Korea, and Japan, further cements its importance in the global economy.

Similarly, the economic bonhomie and interconnectedness diminish the chances of any potential military conflict in Central Asia. An aggressive move by Russia into the North of Kazakhstan will disrupt the region’s stability and jeopardize the substantial investments of multiple powerful nations. Having invested immensely in Kazakhstan, its various NATO states, and China, the US is interested in maintaining Astana’s sovereignty and stability.

Kazakhstan is also essential to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to maintain peace and stability in the region. Astana is also part of the SCO and has a pivotal position in the group. Likewise, the country has supported Pakistani requests for membership in the SCO.

Due to the involvement of extra-regional powers in CARs, any threat to Kazakhstan would likely receive a stringent response from the international community, especially America and its NATO members. Economic sanctions, international diplomatic pressure, and increased support for Kazakhstan’s defense capabilities could be key components of a non-military response. The USA and its allies might leverage their economic investments to deter Russian advances, emphasizing the global repercussions of such actions.

The growing Chinese economic presence in Astana has added another layer of complexity to the region’s strategic and economic dynamics. As a major trading partner and investor, China is vested in preventing instability from disrupting its access to Kazakh resources and markets.

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