ALMATY -- Russia continues to build up its troop presence in Kazakhstan despite the declared end to the violent protests that rocked the country last week.
Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev Monday (January 10) said that the domestic unrest has ended and that security forces were in control of the country.
Kazakhstan has been left reeling in the wake of unprecedented unrest that erupted this month in the midst of protests over a fuel price hike in the west of the country.
Dozens are believed to have been killed in the violence, and the Interior Ministry (MVD) Monday said that almost 8,000 people had been detained by security forces.
Tokayev said in a video conference with leaders from the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) that his country had defeated an "attempted coup d'etat".
He said "armed militants" had used the backdrop of protests to try to seize power.
"The main goal was obvious: the undermining of the constitutional order, the destruction of government institutions and the seizure of power," he said.
Russian troops pouring into Kazakhstan
Yet, Russian troops continue to pour into the country.
The Russian Defence Ministry Sunday said that more than 75 large military transport planes were running "around the clock" to transfer Russian troops into Kazakhstan.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said during Monday's video conference that the CSTO dispatched the troops following Tokayev's request because the country was facing the "aggression of international terrorism".
Tokayev said the CSTO had dispatched 2,030 troops and 250 pieces of hardware, but insisted that the Russian-led troops would go home "soon".
Putin said the deployment of "peacekeeping forces" to Kazakhstan would be "for a limited time period", without elaborating on a withdrawal timeline.
However, history suggests the Russians may stay longer than desired.
"I think one lesson in recent history is that once Russians are in your house, it's sometimes very difficult to get them to leave," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters last week.
One reason the Russians may opt to stay beyond their mandate is to control the spread of unrest.
The violent protests that erupted in Kazakhstan sent a message to Russia, where Putin continues to face a population deeply discontented with the country's economy and future.
A warning for Russia
The situation in Kazakhstan is a warning for the Kremlin: under a surface appearance of stability, a pool of discontent might be brewing that could explode at any moment.
As such, the deployment of troops from former Soviet countries sends a signal that leaders will not allow "revolutions" to erupt within ex-Soviet countries, Putin said.
"The measures taken by the CSTO made it clear that we would not let anyone destabilise our countries and implement so-called colour revolution scenarios," he added.
The Russian-led CSTO includes six former Soviet republics: Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Belarus and Armenia.
Putin demonstrated Russia's ability to sway events in the former Soviet Union in 2020, by propping up Alyaksandr Lukashenka's regime in Belarus after demonstrators denounced election fraud.
Recent incursions of Russian troops in neighbouring conflicts -- including the crisis simmering in Ukraine and the 2020 war over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh -- and the Kremlin's fear mongering in Afghanistan and elsewhere add to the global concerns.
"The United States and, frankly, the world will be watching for any violation of human rights," US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters last week.
"We will also be watching for any actions that may lay the predicate for the seizure of Kazakh institutions," he said.
"We hope that the government of Kazakhstan will soon be able to address problems which are fundamentally economic and political in nature," Price said, calling the United States a "partner" of the Central Asian nation.