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Analyzing the speech by the President of Kazakhstan at the 25th St.-Petersburg International Economic Forum: assessments and narratives

photo: aqorda.kz
20 June 2022

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev presented some lofty rhetoric at the panel session of the 25th St.-Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). Russian and foreign media interpret it from the opposite positions. Some compliment the President of Kazakhstan for his true courage he personally came to St.-Petersburg. Others blame him for multi-vector policy and compare his political future with that of Yanukovych and Milošević. Some expect help from Kazakhstan neighbors in bypassing the sanctions and some condemn them for not recognizing the Donbas republics. [1] This paper is our attempt to make sense in this collision of assessments and identify the most important narratives.

Thesis antithesis synthesis

A political analyst from Kazakhstan Daniyar Atambayev accurately described the political culture of the President of Kazakhstan. «Tokayevs position should not be split into separate parts, as it often happens with his messages about the languages, when some are citing his words in support of Russian language, and the others in support of Kazakh language, while this is his one wholistic position». Being a sinologist by his educational background, Tokayev always presents his political ideas as a dialectical triad: thesis antithesis synthesis. Two opposite statements come first, then the President keeps the harmonious unity of these assumptions, but eventually reconciles the opposites and elaborates the theme providing the required new clue.

For example, dialectician K.-J. Tokayev said at the SPIEF that Kazakhstan does not recognize the sovereignty not only of LPR or DPR, but also of other «quasi-state territories». And he gave the examples of not only Abkhazia or South Ossetia, but also of Taiwan and Kosovo. We can see here a direct message not only for Russians and Kazakhs, but also for China and the USA. Then followed the reconciling synthesis «if we use the right of nations to self-determination too broadly, it may lead to chaos». And then the new clue: Kazakhstans claim for neutrality and multi-vector policy in the environment of a global conflict.

We may also remember another dialectic statement of Tokayev after the CSTO summit containing declarations about fighting against falsification of history and about cooperation with NATO. Or the landmark interview he gave before his visit to SPIEF, where the thesis-antithesis pairs are clearly visible. For example, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev stated that Kazakhstan would not be breaching the sanctions regime imposed by the West against Russia. At the same time, the Kazakhstan leader emphasized that his country would continue cooperation with Russia, and all the previously executed agreements would stay in effect. [3]

Then Tokayev stated that the assumption about Kazakhstan owing something to Russia for its assistance within the CSTO lines during the political crisis this January was incorrect. [4] And right after saying so, the leader of the allied country added that Nur-Sultan is an active member of CSTO. The reconciling synthesis is visible in the next phrase of the Kazakhstan President: «I am sure that Russia will overcome the difficulties of today». As a summary, the dialectical development of the theme manifests itself in the ongoing extension of Tokayevs freedom of action and simultaneous reduction of his onerous obligations to Moscow.

In between Russia and China

In essence, the President of Kazakhstan declared the «work-to-rule strike» to Russia in the sanctions context. He promised to stay within the EAEU and CSTO, but said he would do everything strictly abiding the rules, very carefully and slowly. And, of course, with account of the national interests of Kazakhstan. To put it straight, friendly neutrality in the environment of avalanching sanctions and transit blockade is worth a lot. But a noticeable part of Russian political class and media «busy bees» are already on the warpath: they are using the Sombarts logic of «the warriors», not «merchants». Maybe that is why diplomatic or dialectical ideas of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev encountered such harsh criticism.

All the observers commented the courage of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, when he presented his political messages in front of the President of Russia. Previously, only one of the leaders from the «Eurasian ternary» Alexander Lukashenko allowed himself such a freedom of thought. But in the situation of mounting global political turbulence, the Belarus President preferred the Belshina shops to the SPIEF tribune. Visiting the production site, Lukashenko held «a political briefing» for the workers on the hot topic of the day: «Belarus does not need to be drawn into this conflict and «play a fray». [5] Eventually, the Kazakhstan President turned out to be the only foreign leader personally visiting SPIEF.

There is another important reason for Tokayev to demonstrate this sudden political bravery. A week ago the third international forum «Central Asia China» finished its work in Kazakhstan, where the leaders of the Central Asian states met with an influential member of the PRC State Council and the PRC Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi. The special military operation of Russia in Ukraine gave a singnificant impetus to the transit projects in Central Asia with participation of Bejing including the construction of China Kyrgyzstan Uzbekistan railway and development of the «Middle Corridor» by-passing Russia. The PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly recommended to the Central Asian countries «to beware of the attempts of external forces to engage the countries of the Region into conflicts between major powers and to make them take that or another side». In essence, Tokayevs speech at SPIEF is in line with the Chinese recommendations.

It should be noted that Wand Yis visit was the prelude to the visit of PRC leader Xi Jinping to the region scheduled for autumn, during which Kazakhstan will be viewed as having a special role of the «underboss» within the Central Asia China (C+C5) format. A series of new narratives contained in Tokayevs speech at SPIEF should be analyzed through the lense of this regional optics. Ak-Ordas website emphasizes the following three important subjects in the speech of the Kazakhstan President. Firstly, the new concept of «the Big Eurasia»; secondly, the idea of interlinking the Eurasian integration with the Chinese project «One Belt and One Road»; thirdly, Kazakhstan aptitude to play a useful role of the «buffer market» for Russia. [6] Let us perform a sequential analysis of these ideas proposed by the leader of Kazakhstan.

According to K.-J. Tokayev, «the theme of forming a Big Eurasian Partnership is discussed with great interest in the margins of Petersburg Forum». It is referred to creation of somewhat loose common space for equitable cooperation between regional organizations. Remember, that there were many long-lasting discussions at SPIEF about the Pan-European project «Common Economic Space from Lisbon to Vladivostok». Due to complete split-up with Europe, this Utopian project is now closed, and it looks like it being replace with megalomanic project of «The Big Eurasia». The fact that Tokayev used the example of «successful long-lasting functioning of CIS in complicated geopolitical environment» also raises some concern. He even proposed that «CIS may become the best basis for implementing such mega-project. The SCO, ASEAN and EAEU could be the inalienable part of the Big Eurasia». Such an incredibly broad variety of potential allies looks like searching for new partners based on the principle «Everyone for himself and the devil take the hindermost».

The thing is that CIS was the mechanism for the «civilized divorce» according to the precise words of the Russian President. From the very beginning it was based on the logic of splitting up the Soviet legacy, not the logic of uniting it. The ideas of integration required an absolutely new project for their implementation, and this is how the Eurasian Economic Union emerged. The post-Soviet Russia had no other choice: in order to remain a meaningful actor of international relations it had to build its own «pole of power» in the post-Soviet space. That is why the abandonment of its own integration project in the context of evolving internal and external threats is counterproductive both for Russia and for other UAEU member countries, which will remain on their own. In essence, returning to CIS format means that the post-Soviet space is exposed to all the winds and ready for a new geopolitical re-assembly.

In response to modern challenges, K.-J. Tokayev proposes «to implement consistently the entire potential for cooperation with the Eurasian Economic Union». But how? «The vital task is interlinking the Eurasian integration with the Chines project «One Belt and One Road», the Kazakhstan President believes. According to his estimates, the aggregate EAEU economy makes up for over USD 2 trn. It means that in economic terms EAEU is by one order less than the neighboring «giants» of the global economy the EU and China. In 2021, their GDP made USD 23.5 trn and USD 16.9 trn respectively. According to Evgeniy Vinokurov, the Chief Economist of the Eurasian Stabilization and Development Fund, it would be wrong to focus solely of the East or solely on the West within the EAEU international cooperation programs. Following the advice of Isaac Newton, the Eurasian Union needs to «stand on the shoulders of giants» China and the EU simultaneously.

The root idea of EAEU was to become such a «balance beam» or geo-economic bridge between the East and the West. However, «external environment has changed for long, if not for good, and changed drastically», as quite fairly remarked Elvira Nabiullina, the RF Central Bank Chair, at SPIEF. And in such environment the idea of interlinking the Eurasian integration with the Chinese one may mean only one thing: turning the EAEU into a Pan-Chinese project. Tokayev himself, being a professional sinologist, does not see anything bad in it. «China has become already the major economic and foreign trade partner of Kazakhstan. This country has already invested over USD 22 bn into our economy for the recent 15 years. That is why deepening multi-sided cooperation with China is a critically important task», the Kazakhstan President said. But for a considerable part of Russian political and economic elite, such resolute turn of Nur-Sultan towards Beijing still looks unacceptable.

It is important to understand that the Eurasian Union initially looked like mainly Pan-European project. Igor Shuvalov, the ex-Prime Minister and former curator of the Eurasian integration openly declared at the Eastern Forum in Berlin in 2014 that EAEU was planning to discuss the issues of «the common economic space» and «the free trade zones» with the EU. [7] Moreover, the legal framework for the Eurasian Economic Union from the very beginning was created with the possibility for potential harmonization of EU and EAEU regulations in different spheres. This included alignment of the customs procedures, technical regulations and other standards; elimination of non-tariff barriers; gradual opening of the markets and simplification of visa procedures. [8] Experts provided ten convincing reasons in favor of deeper trading and economic cooperation between EAEU and EU, e.g., in the format of possible free trade zone. [9] Nowadays, the long shadow is cast on these longstanding plans of getting closer with Europe; and many people still cannot get their heads around it.

Think in real categories, have clear-eye understanding of the situation

In his speech at SPIEF, the Kazakhstan President busted three basic myths of Russian establishment simultaneously. The first one: «Soon all of it will be over, and the West will come back to us»; the second one: «China will help us, and we will continue to be energy-based super-power, even with some discount»; and the third one: «We will create an autarky and organize import phase-out for everything». It is difficult to give up on comforting illusions, but this is a necessary stage of moving into adulthood both for an individual, and for the entire country. Just before the start of SPIEF, a very good review was published describing the very difficult geo-economic situation Russia found itself in upon imposing the unprecedented Western sanctions on it. [10] In fact, we are left only with one transport corridor «North South», and our main partners today are Turkey and Caspian countries including Kazakhstan. However, not everyone at the top level is ready to comprehend the new reality adequately. Maybe, this is why the majority of media responded ro Tokayevs speech in St.-Petersburg with fury and negation the first two stages of perceiving the irreversible change.

Let us be frank: the jingoistic calls by certain figures to «chasten Tokayev» or to «punish Kazakhstan» will not help us to improve our geo-economic situation; on the contrary, they may easily make it worse. The adepts of media and trade wars with neighbors should remember that Belarus and Kazakhstan are two narrow «bottlenecks» for Russian inland transit. Up to 80% of transit go through these two countries to the West and to the East, respectively. And if these two bottlenecks are plugged simultaneously by external blockade or by internal conflict then Russia will find itself literally locked inside. No doubt, Kazakhstan is critically dependent on exporting its oil through Russian ports, just like the Russian Federation on stability of its longest land border. Due to this strategical inter-dependence, the political class of our neighbor countries needs to be extremely cautious and ultra-careful, especially in public statements and comments to the media.

It is time to stop propagandistic hysteria and take a sober look at the uneasy situation that emerged. We need to listen carefully to the third thesis of K.-J. Tokayev at SPIEF: «Instead of counter-sanctions, which are not likely to be productive enough, should come more active and flexible trade policy broadly covering the markets of Asia and Middle East». In other words, there is a need to start a broad expert discussion about the future of Eurasian integration, new allyship policy and change of Russian strategic priorities in FSU area and far-abroad countries. Of course, we can be polite and agree with the Kazakhstan President, that in our plans for the future Kazakhstan should be playing a useful role of «the buffer market». However, we need to make it clear for ourselves: how do we see this future, and what our own plans should be. This is the priority task of Russian experts and political classes initiated by that dramatic speech of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

1. State Dumas response to Tokayevs words about not recognizing DPR and LPR. Lenta.Ru, 18.06.2022. https://lenta.ru/news/2022/06/18/dnrlnr/

2. Tokayevs speech in St.-Petersburg had a wide response in Kazakhstan society, Kazakhstan Pravda, 20.06.2022. https://kazpravda.kz/n/vystuplenie-tokaeva-v-peterburge-vyzvalo-bolshoy-rezonans-v-kazahstanskom-obshchestve/

3. Tokayev refused to breach the Western sanctions against Russia. Gazeta.Ru, 15.06.2022. https://www.gazeta.ru/politics/news/2022/06/15/17936168.shtml

4. Kazakhstan will not «be deeply bowing to Russia» - Tokayev. IA REGNUM, 15.06.2022. https://regnum.ru/news/polit/3619321.html

5. Lukashenko: for me the most important thing is not to nip into the Ukrainian conflict up to the ears, but to have extinguished as soon as possible. BELTA, 17.06.2022. https://www.belta.by/president/view/lukashenko-dlja-menja-glavnoe-ne-vlezt-po-ushi-v-ukrainskij-konflikt-a-chtoby-on-bystree-zakonchilsja-508563-2022/

6. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev took part in the 25th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Official website of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, 17.06.2022. https://www.akorda.kz/ru/kasym-zhomart-tokaev-prinyal-uchastie-v-rabote-yubileynogo-25-go-peterburgskogo-mezhdunarodnogo-ekonomicheskogo-foruma-1754422

7. Common economic space with Europe is now possible only in EU - EAEU format Shuvalov. Vedomosti, 30.05.2014. https://www.vedomosti.ru/politics/news/2014/05/30/obschee-ekonomicheskoe-prostranstvo-s-evropoj-teper

8. EU and EAEU: is common future possible? Eurasian Economic Commission. 07.11.2019. http://www.eurasiancommission.org/ru/nae/news/Pages/07-11-2019-2.aspx

9. Ten reasons for cooperation between EAEU and EU. Valdai International Discussions Club, 26.06.2019. https://ru.valdaiclub.com/a/highlights/desyat-prichin-eaes-i-es/

10. West, East, South who are we left with? Kompaniya, 14.06.2022. https://ko.ru/articles/zapad-vostok-yug-s-kem-my-ostalis/

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Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies
Reports

Analyzing the speech by the President of Kazakhstan at the 25th St.-Petersburg International Economic Forum: assessments and narratives

photo: aqorda.kz
20 2022

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev presented some lofty rhetoric at the panel session of the 25th St.-Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). Russian and foreign media interpret it from the opposite positions. Some compliment the President of Kazakhstan for his true courage he personally came to St.-Petersburg. Others blame him for multi-vector policy and compare his political future with that of Yanukovych and Milošević. Some expect help from Kazakhstan neighbors in bypassing the sanctions and some condemn them for not recognizing the Donbas republics. [1] This paper is our attempt to make sense in this collision of assessments and identify the most important narratives.

Thesis antithesis synthesis

A political analyst from Kazakhstan Daniyar Atambayev accurately described the political culture of the President of Kazakhstan. «Tokayevs position should not be split into separate parts, as it often happens with his messages about the languages, when some are citing his words in support of Russian language, and the others in support of Kazakh language, while this is his one wholistic position». Being a sinologist by his educational background, Tokayev always presents his political ideas as a dialectical triad: thesis antithesis synthesis. Two opposite statements come first, then the President keeps the harmonious unity of these assumptions, but eventually reconciles the opposites and elaborates the theme providing the required new clue.

For example, dialectician K.-J. Tokayev said at the SPIEF that Kazakhstan does not recognize the sovereignty not only of LPR or DPR, but also of other «quasi-state territories». And he gave the examples of not only Abkhazia or South Ossetia, but also of Taiwan and Kosovo. We can see here a direct message not only for Russians and Kazakhs, but also for China and the USA. Then followed the reconciling synthesis «if we use the right of nations to self-determination too broadly, it may lead to chaos». And then the new clue: Kazakhstans claim for neutrality and multi-vector policy in the environment of a global conflict.

We may also remember another dialectic statement of Tokayev after the CSTO summit containing declarations about fighting against falsification of history and about cooperation with NATO. Or the landmark interview he gave before his visit to SPIEF, where the thesis-antithesis pairs are clearly visible. For example, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev stated that Kazakhstan would not be breaching the sanctions regime imposed by the West against Russia. At the same time, the Kazakhstan leader emphasized that his country would continue cooperation with Russia, and all the previously executed agreements would stay in effect. [3]

Then Tokayev stated that the assumption about Kazakhstan owing something to Russia for its assistance within the CSTO lines during the political crisis this January was incorrect. [4] And right after saying so, the leader of the allied country added that Nur-Sultan is an active member of CSTO. The reconciling synthesis is visible in the next phrase of the Kazakhstan President: «I am sure that Russia will overcome the difficulties of today». As a summary, the dialectical development of the theme manifests itself in the ongoing extension of Tokayevs freedom of action and simultaneous reduction of his onerous obligations to Moscow.

In between Russia and China

In essence, the President of Kazakhstan declared the «work-to-rule strike» to Russia in the sanctions context. He promised to stay within the EAEU and CSTO, but said he would do everything strictly abiding the rules, very carefully and slowly. And, of course, with account of the national interests of Kazakhstan. To put it straight, friendly neutrality in the environment of avalanching sanctions and transit blockade is worth a lot. But a noticeable part of Russian political class and media «busy bees» are already on the warpath: they are using the Sombarts logic of «the warriors», not «merchants». Maybe that is why diplomatic or dialectical ideas of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev encountered such harsh criticism.

All the observers commented the courage of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, when he presented his political messages in front of the President of Russia. Previously, only one of the leaders from the «Eurasian ternary» Alexander Lukashenko allowed himself such a freedom of thought. But in the situation of mounting global political turbulence, the Belarus President preferred the Belshina shops to the SPIEF tribune. Visiting the production site, Lukashenko held «a political briefing» for the workers on the hot topic of the day: «Belarus does not need to be drawn into this conflict and «play a fray». [5] Eventually, the Kazakhstan President turned out to be the only foreign leader personally visiting SPIEF.

There is another important reason for Tokayev to demonstrate this sudden political bravery. A week ago the third international forum «Central Asia China» finished its work in Kazakhstan, where the leaders of the Central Asian states met with an influential member of the PRC State Council and the PRC Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi. The special military operation of Russia in Ukraine gave a singnificant impetus to the transit projects in Central Asia with participation of Bejing including the construction of China Kyrgyzstan Uzbekistan railway and development of the «Middle Corridor» by-passing Russia. The PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly recommended to the Central Asian countries «to beware of the attempts of external forces to engage the countries of the Region into conflicts between major powers and to make them take that or another side». In essence, Tokayevs speech at SPIEF is in line with the Chinese recommendations.

It should be noted that Wand Yis visit was the prelude to the visit of PRC leader Xi Jinping to the region scheduled for autumn, during which Kazakhstan will be viewed as having a special role of the «underboss» within the Central Asia China (C+C5) format. A series of new narratives contained in Tokayevs speech at SPIEF should be analyzed through the lense of this regional optics. Ak-Ordas website emphasizes the following three important subjects in the speech of the Kazakhstan President. Firstly, the new concept of «the Big Eurasia»; secondly, the idea of interlinking the Eurasian integration with the Chinese project «One Belt and One Road»; thirdly, Kazakhstan aptitude to play a useful role of the «buffer market» for Russia. [6] Let us perform a sequential analysis of these ideas proposed by the leader of Kazakhstan.

According to K.-J. Tokayev, «the theme of forming a Big Eurasian Partnership is discussed with great interest in the margins of Petersburg Forum». It is referred to creation of somewhat loose common space for equitable cooperation between regional organizations. Remember, that there were many long-lasting discussions at SPIEF about the Pan-European project «Common Economic Space from Lisbon to Vladivostok». Due to complete split-up with Europe, this Utopian project is now closed, and it looks like it being replace with megalomanic project of «The Big Eurasia». The fact that Tokayev used the example of «successful long-lasting functioning of CIS in complicated geopolitical environment» also raises some concern. He even proposed that «CIS may become the best basis for implementing such mega-project. The SCO, ASEAN and EAEU could be the inalienable part of the Big Eurasia». Such an incredibly broad variety of potential allies looks like searching for new partners based on the principle «Everyone for himself and the devil take the hindermost».

The thing is that CIS was the mechanism for the «civilized divorce» according to the precise words of the Russian President. From the very beginning it was based on the logic of splitting up the Soviet legacy, not the logic of uniting it. The ideas of integration required an absolutely new project for their implementation, and this is how the Eurasian Economic Union emerged. The post-Soviet Russia had no other choice: in order to remain a meaningful actor of international relations it had to build its own «pole of power» in the post-Soviet space. That is why the abandonment of its own integration project in the context of evolving internal and external threats is counterproductive both for Russia and for other UAEU member countries, which will remain on their own. In essence, returning to CIS format means that the post-Soviet space is exposed to all the winds and ready for a new geopolitical re-assembly.

In response to modern challenges, K.-J. Tokayev proposes «to implement consistently the entire potential for cooperation with the Eurasian Economic Union». But how? «The vital task is interlinking the Eurasian integration with the Chines project «One Belt and One Road», the Kazakhstan President believes. According to his estimates, the aggregate EAEU economy makes up for over USD 2 trn. It means that in economic terms EAEU is by one order less than the neighboring «giants» of the global economy the EU and China. In 2021, their GDP made USD 23.5 trn and USD 16.9 trn respectively. According to Evgeniy Vinokurov, the Chief Economist of the Eurasian Stabilization and Development Fund, it would be wrong to focus solely of the East or solely on the West within the EAEU international cooperation programs. Following the advice of Isaac Newton, the Eurasian Union needs to «stand on the shoulders of giants» China and the EU simultaneously.

The root idea of EAEU was to become such a «balance beam» or geo-economic bridge between the East and the West. However, «external environment has changed for long, if not for good, and changed drastically», as quite fairly remarked Elvira Nabiullina, the RF Central Bank Chair, at SPIEF. And in such environment the idea of interlinking the Eurasian integration with the Chinese one may mean only one thing: turning the EAEU into a Pan-Chinese project. Tokayev himself, being a professional sinologist, does not see anything bad in it. «China has become already the major economic and foreign trade partner of Kazakhstan. This country has already invested over USD 22 bn into our economy for the recent 15 years. That is why deepening multi-sided cooperation with China is a critically important task», the Kazakhstan President said. But for a considerable part of Russian political and economic elite, such resolute turn of Nur-Sultan towards Beijing still looks unacceptable.

It is important to understand that the Eurasian Union initially looked like mainly Pan-European project. Igor Shuvalov, the ex-Prime Minister and former curator of the Eurasian integration openly declared at the Eastern Forum in Berlin in 2014 that EAEU was planning to discuss the issues of «the common economic space» and «the free trade zones» with the EU. [7] Moreover, the legal framework for the Eurasian Economic Union from the very beginning was created with the possibility for potential harmonization of EU and EAEU regulations in different spheres. This included alignment of the customs procedures, technical regulations and other standards; elimination of non-tariff barriers; gradual opening of the markets and simplification of visa procedures. [8] Experts provided ten convincing reasons in favor of deeper trading and economic cooperation between EAEU and EU, e.g., in the format of possible free trade zone. [9] Nowadays, the long shadow is cast on these longstanding plans of getting closer with Europe; and many people still cannot get their heads around it.

Think in real categories, have clear-eye understanding of the situation

In his speech at SPIEF, the Kazakhstan President busted three basic myths of Russian establishment simultaneously. The first one: «Soon all of it will be over, and the West will come back to us»; the second one: «China will help us, and we will continue to be energy-based super-power, even with some discount»; and the third one: «We will create an autarky and organize import phase-out for everything». It is difficult to give up on comforting illusions, but this is a necessary stage of moving into adulthood both for an individual, and for the entire country. Just before the start of SPIEF, a very good review was published describing the very difficult geo-economic situation Russia found itself in upon imposing the unprecedented Western sanctions on it. [10] In fact, we are left only with one transport corridor «North South», and our main partners today are Turkey and Caspian countries including Kazakhstan. However, not everyone at the top level is ready to comprehend the new reality adequately. Maybe, this is why the majority of media responded ro Tokayevs speech in St.-Petersburg with fury and negation the first two stages of perceiving the irreversible change.

Let us be frank: the jingoistic calls by certain figures to «chasten Tokayev» or to «punish Kazakhstan» will not help us to improve our geo-economic situation; on the contrary, they may easily make it worse. The adepts of media and trade wars with neighbors should remember that Belarus and Kazakhstan are two narrow «bottlenecks» for Russian inland transit. Up to 80% of transit go through these two countries to the West and to the East, respectively. And if these two bottlenecks are plugged simultaneously by external blockade or by internal conflict then Russia will find itself literally locked inside. No doubt, Kazakhstan is critically dependent on exporting its oil through Russian ports, just like the Russian Federation on stability of its longest land border. Due to this strategical inter-dependence, the political class of our neighbor countries needs to be extremely cautious and ultra-careful, especially in public statements and comments to the media.

It is time to stop propagandistic hysteria and take a sober look at the uneasy situation that emerged. We need to listen carefully to the third thesis of K.-J. Tokayev at SPIEF: «Instead of counter-sanctions, which are not likely to be productive enough, should come more active and flexible trade policy broadly covering the markets of Asia and Middle East». In other words, there is a need to start a broad expert discussion about the future of Eurasian integration, new allyship policy and change of Russian strategic priorities in FSU area and far-abroad countries. Of course, we can be polite and agree with the Kazakhstan President, that in our plans for the future Kazakhstan should be playing a useful role of «the buffer market». However, we need to make it clear for ourselves: how do we see this future, and what our own plans should be. This is the priority task of Russian experts and political classes initiated by that dramatic speech of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

1. State Dumas response to Tokayevs words about not recognizing DPR and LPR. Lenta.Ru, 18.06.2022. https://lenta.ru/news/2022/06/18/dnrlnr/

2. Tokayevs speech in St.-Petersburg had a wide response in Kazakhstan society, Kazakhstan Pravda, 20.06.2022. https://kazpravda.kz/n/vystuplenie-tokaeva-v-peterburge-vyzvalo-bolshoy-rezonans-v-kazahstanskom-obshchestve/

3. Tokayev refused to breach the Western sanctions against Russia. Gazeta.Ru, 15.06.2022. https://www.gazeta.ru/politics/news/2022/06/15/17936168.shtml

4. Kazakhstan will not «be deeply bowing to Russia» - Tokayev. IA REGNUM, 15.06.2022. https://regnum.ru/news/polit/3619321.html

5. Lukashenko: for me the most important thing is not to nip into the Ukrainian conflict up to the ears, but to have extinguished as soon as possible. BELTA, 17.06.2022. https://www.belta.by/president/view/lukashenko-dlja-menja-glavnoe-ne-vlezt-po-ushi-v-ukrainskij-konflikt-a-chtoby-on-bystree-zakonchilsja-508563-2022/

6. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev took part in the 25th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Official website of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, 17.06.2022. https://www.akorda.kz/ru/kasym-zhomart-tokaev-prinyal-uchastie-v-rabote-yubileynogo-25-go-peterburgskogo-mezhdunarodnogo-ekonomicheskogo-foruma-1754422

7. Common economic space with Europe is now possible only in EU - EAEU format Shuvalov. Vedomosti, 30.05.2014. https://www.vedomosti.ru/politics/news/2014/05/30/obschee-ekonomicheskoe-prostranstvo-s-evropoj-teper

8. EU and EAEU: is common future possible? Eurasian Economic Commission. 07.11.2019. http://www.eurasiancommission.org/ru/nae/news/Pages/07-11-2019-2.aspx

9. Ten reasons for cooperation between EAEU and EU. Valdai International Discussions Club, 26.06.2019. https://ru.valdaiclub.com/a/highlights/desyat-prichin-eaes-i-es/

10. West, East, South who are we left with? Kompaniya, 14.06.2022. https://ko.ru/articles/zapad-vostok-yug-s-kem-my-ostalis/