Part 6. Between two fires.

CNN correspondent:

– Tell me, Mr. President, isn’t your loyalty to Mr. Putin a payment for the help he gave you in January 2022?

President Tokayev:

– I have already said and I will repeat once again that I am grateful to Mr. Putin for helping to preserve the rule of law and order in our country in January 2022 within the framework of the CSTO.

However, neither then nor after I made promises to Mr. Putin that Kazakhstan would always support Russia in everything. It is simply impossible to make sure that the two countries always have the same interests in everything, there are always some discrepancies. And I will let Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin know about them. Moreover, he is a very experienced politician and understands the situation in Russia, Kazakhstan and the world perfectly. Therefore, he does not require Kazakhstan to be more active in favor of Russia, because he understands that the mood of Kazakhstanis is now, perhaps, more on the side of Ukraine than Russia. Therefore, even if I now wanted to support Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin politically, economically and, especially, by military actions, it would cause a wide protest inside Kazakhstan, and I do not rule out that it would cost me my position. Vladimir Vladimirovich understands all this.

“CNN” correspondent:

– But aren’t you afraid in this case to get the disapproval of the opposite side, that is, the West, for your ambiguous position on this issue? As you know, Kazakhstan has open

customs borders with Russia, and there is information that sanctioned goods come from other countries of the world to Kazakhstan and are transported to Russia from here. Won’t this force Western countries to apply sanctions against Kazakhstan as well in order to close this loophole?

President Tokayev:

– As you know, the Customs Union was created many years ago and has been functioning all this time. We did not open the borders with Russia specifically after the sanctions were announced to it so that Russians would use this loophole. No, our borders were opened a long time ago, so I don’t think it’s Kazakhstan’s fault that Western countries, when announcing sanctions against Russia, did not think through the issue of their technical implementation themselves. And of course they didn’t even agree with us. Therefore, our conscience is clear, we have not done anything new, we just continued to live as we lived before the sanctions. I think the West has no moral right to accuse us of deceit.

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