Kazakhstan garners support for restoring peace after unrest
Several countries and groups have voiced support for Kazakhstan in cracking down on riots and bringing back normal life as an externally-stoked "terrorist attack" has caused great losses to the Central Asian country.
The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Moscow-led military alliance, held an extraordinary session via video link on Monday, when leaders of the member states showed solidarity with the Kazakh authorities, reports xinhua news agency.
According to President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the CSTO has deployed 2,030 peacekeeping troops with 250 pieces of equipment to Kazakhstan to protect key facilities in the country.
During the CSTO meeting, Russian President Vladimir Putin praised the peacekeeping forces for their effective work, saying that they will operate in Kazakhstan as long as Kazakh president deems it necessary and will be entirely withdrawn from the country after the mission is completed.
"Russia intends to further prioritize strengthening the strategic alliance with all the CSTO member states. I am confident, of course, that the leaders and people of Kazakhstan will be able to handle this situation and respond to these serious challenges with honour," Putin said.
Tokayev virtually met European Council President Charles Michel on Monday to brief him on the details of the riots and the government's responses.
Michel underlined the importance of obtaining reliable information against the backdrop of various interpretations of what is happening in Kazakhstan.
"We support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of your country. We are ready to further strengthen cooperation with Kazakhstan," he was quoted by the Kazakh presidential website as saying.
During the meeting with Michel, Tokayev called the unrest "a terrorist attack" with the participation of foreign fighters, mainly from central Asian countries, including Afghanistan, as well as from the Middle East.
The President said that the "unprecedented act of aggression and encroachment on Kazakhstan's statehood" has led to great losses: 16 members of law enforcement and the military were killed and over 1,300 wounded.
In the riots, 164 people were killed and over 7,900 were arrested, according to the Kazakh Health Ministry and Interior Ministry.
Over 1,270 businesses were affected nationwide, with more than 100 shopping centres and banks looted and about 500 police vehicles damaged or burnt, Tokayev said, adding that the economic damage could amount to $2 billion-$3 billion.
At the CSTO session, Putin also noted that well-organised groups of militants, who were trained in terrorist camps abroad, were used to attack Kazakhstan.
He urged the CSTO to take measures to jointly counter "destructive external interference" in case of emergency in the organization's member states.