Kazakh and Ukraine crises leave the West with egg on its face
Stephen Ndegwa
Security force soldiers and civilians in central Almaty, Kazakhstan, January 15, 2022. /CFP

Security force soldiers and civilians in central Almaty, Kazakhstan, January 15, 2022. /CFP

Editor's note: Stephen Ndegwa is a Nairobi-based communication expert, lecturer-scholar at the United States International University-Africa, author and international affairs columnist. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

After West's usual condescension towards Kazakhstan following the violence that rocked the country in January, the European Union (EU) must have got rude shock after Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev told a press conference on January 29 that he did not find the need for an international investigation into the riots.

Indeed, Tokayev fell short of blaming the riots on lackeys of the West, saying those who instigated the chaos had fled from the city, with some into neighboring countries. He saw the violence in Kazakhstan true to the script of external interference and has reiterated before that professionals masterminded the events and that foreign forces were involved. Experts see the president's reference to the latter as an indication that the violence was instigated by foreign mercenaries in cahoots with local agents.

Pointedly, he was unequivocal that the EU Parliament resolution was "absolutely biased, premature and dictated by lobbyists," stating that Kazakhstan's public commissions are both sufficiently credible and competent to investigate the crisis. This would ensure that his country got to the bottom of what happened rather than risk a hijacking of the process that would manipulate and hide the facts.

Tokayev had a reason to be suspicious of the EU's suggestion. The EU has no locus standi on the matter unless it had a hand in it, which it wants to whitewash. The body could also be pushing a diabolical agenda in the country at the behest of the U.S., as the latter focuses on the Russia-Ukraine border tension. Moreover, observers feel the West is covetous of Kazakhstan's abundant natural resources, including coal, oil, natural gas and uranium.

By acknowledging and defending the peacekeeping role played by forces of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Tokayev was taking ownership of his country's destiny.

A civilian participates in a Kyiv Territorial Defence unit training session in Kyiv, Ukraine, January 29, 2022. /CFP

A civilian participates in a Kyiv Territorial Defence unit training session in Kyiv, Ukraine, January 29, 2022. /CFP

As it is, the West is increasingly losing clout, influence and even goodwill in dealing with global crises. Tokayev’s bombshell has set a precedence in the region. Experts also see a situation where regional countries will totally isolate the West in calming the building tension between Ukraine and Russia.

The U.S. has seen the signs of the times. On January 27, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland appealed to China to use its cordial relations with Russia in search of a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis. She observed that "if there is a conflict in the Ukraine, it is not going to be good for China either." It would also have an adverse effect on both the energy sphere and the global economy.

This is definitely an admission by the U.S., albeit grudgingly, of China's increasingly pivotal role not just in the region but globally as well. While China has been asking for sobriety and patience towards an amiable solution to the crisis, the U.S. has been issuing threats of retaliation against Russia if it moves into Ukraine. The U.S. appeal is also hypocritical, going by its shameless diplomatic "boycott" of the upcoming Winter Olympics on February 4.

It is also presumptuous to try and direct China's position on the tension. As Russia's neighbor, Ukraine is obviously strategic for the U.S. It acts as a bulwark against what the U.S. claims are Russia's expansionism in the region and would not mind establishing a strong military presence as deterrence.

The West is becoming jittery and insecure by the changing geopolitical dynamics beyond its control, with some countries in the bloc apparently undergoing some soul searching. It is the case that has happened with Germany in the Ukraine crisis, with the former clearly stating that it will not intervene physically, preferring a purely diplomatic approach.

Expectedly, Germany's hands-off approach is being viewed by its Western allies as a betrayal of both the EU and members of NATO. It is now evident that it is not business as usual for the U.S. and its allies. It is time for the West to have a taste of its own medicine and eat humble pie.

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