Russia has always been more familiar and closest to Kazakhstan. And over the years, Kazakhstan has not only learned from experience, but also relied on Russia's support.
Relations with Russia do not have sharp pain points and are based, including on the good relations between the leaders of the two countries (it’s enough to count the number of meetings of the presidents). Kazakhstan for Russia gives the smallest headache compared with other countries of the post-Soviet space (from the absence of contradictions in foreign policy issues to the absence of labor migrants from Kazakhstan). “Even the non-political fact that the number of private transfers from Kazakhstan to Russia is greater than from Russia to Kazakhstan speaks in favor of the latter,” said political scientist Eduard Poletayev. According to him, “Kazakhstan is, after Russia, the most self-sufficient and truly sovereign state from the CIS republics. In its foreign policy, it does not depend on the opinion of international donors, like Kyrgyzstan, on energy carriers, like Belarus or Ukraine, on the foreign policy situation, like Uzbekistan. It is not surprising that Kazakhstan is respected in Russian politics, as well as in the expert community. ”
During the negotiations that took place in April last year, both the Russian and Kazakhstani parties repeatedly stressed the high level of mutual relations and the absence of serious contradictions between the two states. Nursultan Nazarbayev: "In the post-Soviet space there are no closer and more native states than Russia and Kazakhstan." Vladimir Putin: “We are satisfied with the development of our relations in the sphere of political contacts and in the field of trade and economic relations.”
Is it really so wonderful in the relations between Russia and Kazakhstan? The answer to the question is perhaps ambiguous. There are at least a few “but” that bring some coolness to the infinitely warm relations between the two countries. Analyzing the course of the negotiations between the presidents of the two countries already mentioned above, it should be noted that each of the parties outlined its own priorities in the field of bilateral cooperation.
Russia prioritizes cooperation in the energy, political, and military spheres. Kazakhstan, in its turn, considers the cooperation in the trade and economic sphere a priority. And this, if not cool, is an alarming sign and testifies to diverging views on issues of bilateral cooperation. Such as, firstly, the “multi-vector” nature of Kazakhstan in foreign policy and issues of economic cooperation begins to give “failures”: there is an urgent need to choose foreign policy and economic allies. Secondly, the intensification of the struggle between Russia, the EU, the USA and the countries of the Asia-Pacific region for dominance in the Central Asian region. Recently, the states of Central Asia prefer to focus on the EU, the USA. The fact that Russia is a natural dominant in the region, and in a number of other aspects, undoubted leaders are considered to be indisputable. But whether Russia will continue to firmly hold on to the current geopolitical position is a matter of doubt.
Judging by the notes of our Ministry of Foreign Affairs, difficulties arose only with Uzbekistan regarding the actions of the Uzbek border guards, and even then these problems were hidden under the carpet of diplomatic verbosity. As Eduard Poletayev noted: “In our area, personal relations between the leaders are of great importance, and Nazarbayev is good in this regard. Not only is he one of the few who has remained on the crest of a powerful wave since the times of the USSR (and this means that his experience is respected not only, say, Bakiyev, but even Putin). Nazarbayev, among other things, has never been publicly seen in a quarrel, and since the times of the 60-70s, despite the informal leadership of Tashkent as the center of Central Asia, it was Kazakh politicians who had the most weight in Moscow and could even contribute to the decision of one or another regional issue. So, Kunaev was particularly friendly with Brezhnev, Nazarbayev enjoyed authority with Gorbachev, has a good relationship with Yeltsin and Putin. "
The isolation of Turkmenistan from the outside world in any case did not give a reason to write it off. At least for two reasons. First, Turkmenistan has unprecedented hydrocarbon reserves (explored gas fields “pull” by almost 23 trillion cubic meters; good reserves of Caspian oil make Ashgabat one of the world players in the projection to the near future). Secondly, the geopolitical positioning of the country, at a minimum, implies taking into account the views of Turkmenistan on a number of key problems of the Greater Middle East: its relations with Iran have recently been on the rise; having longstanding ties with Afghanistan (and a large Turkmen diaspora in its north), Ashgabat is an indispensable player on the Afghan platform, maintaining formal and informal ties with most of the forces operating in its neighbor’s territory (including the Taliban). If we talk about specific relations between Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, it is worth noting that Nazarbayev could find a common language even with such a complex personality as the late Turkmenbashi.
It is difficult to call the US a neighbor of Kazakhstan. But, speaking of geopolitics in the Central Asian region, it is difficult not to recall the “all-seeing eye” and the “long arms” of the United States.
“The United States only in the last year or two revised its regional rates, turning its increased attention to Kazakhstan. Previously, geopolitical expediency forced the States to be friends with the country of Islam Karimov, since Uzbekistan is the only country that has common borders not only with all the Central Asian republics of the former USSR, but also with Afghanistan. However, the events in Andijan in May 2005 and the subsequent cooling of relations between Tashkent and Washington forced the Americans to work more actively with Astana, ”the political scientist said. There were also arguments in favor of this. Thus, in Kazakhstan, the largest American investments in the region are concentrated, the country has a large border with China, and the available resources (oil, grain, etc.) will facilitate the implementation of the plan to create “Greater Central Asia”. “Afghanistan and Pakistan have been united with the post-Soviet countries,” Poletayev reminded. “In relations with the United States, the main task of Kazakhstan is to convince the superpower in its ability to ensure the stability and security of the region, primarily through economic and diplomatic methods, and also to get some status bonuses. Americans, in addition to the classic promotion of democracy, protection of investments, combating terrorism and drug trafficking, are interested in Kazakhstan’s ability to reorient some of its export flows to the south, to rebuild Afghanistan (grain and oil products are already useful), as well as the country's political loyalty to military operations The Pentagon (the possible dispatch of the Kazakhstani military to Afghanistan, modest support for actions against Iran - Kazakhstan’s opposition to Iran is already felt country that voluntarily renounced nuclear weapons). Regular bride shows have already taken place (the visit of high-ranking US officials to Kazakhstan and Nursultan Nazarbayev to the USA in 2006). ”