Belarusian ‘peacekeeping forces’ return from Kazakhstan

Belarusian servicemen belonging to CSTO peacekeeping forces have returned to Belarus, the press service of the Belarusian Defence Ministry reports. The planes have landed at Machulishchy military airfield.

“The withdrawal of Belarusian servicemen from the Republic of Kazakhstan has been completed,” the ministry says. Notably, the peacekeepers were transported by Russian Air Force planes.

Belarusian peacekeeping forces in Kazakhstan. Screenshot: Минобороны России / Youtube

“After the loading was over, ten planes carrying CSTO peacekeepers from the Republic of Belarus, took off from Zhetygen airfield to Minsk region,” news agency TASS reported earlier, citing the Russian Defence Ministry.

On the night of January 6, Armenia’s Prime Minister and Chairman of the CSTO Collective Security Council Nikol Pashinyan announced that the Collective Security Treaty Organisation decided to send ‘peacekeeping forces’ to Kazakhstan for ‘a limited period of time’ on the back of the appeal of Kazakh President Kasym-Jomart Tokayev after the unrest in Kazakhstan had broken out. Pro-Lukashenka government confirmed the involvement of the Belarusian troops.

A day later, Tokayev gave a shoot-to-kill order to the military and police forces who were fighting protesters. According to him, the corresponding decision was taken in light of ‘the threat to national security and sovereignty caused by, inter alia, outside interference’. He failed to specify which body or country was interfering in the Kazakh protest.

Unrest in Kazakhstan leaves 164 people dead and over 2K people injured, authorities say

The Kazakh authorities stressed that the CSTO mission should be only temporary, but Russian officials and state media have repeatedly said that the contingent should remain there for an indefinite period of time, ‘until the situation is settled’. The CSTO forces are expected to be fully withdrawn in the coming ten days.

Belarusian military men of the 103rd Detached Airborne Brigade of Vitsebsk arrived in Kazakhstan in the framework of the CSTO program at the request of Kasym-Jomart Tokayev. They were flown from the Machulishchy airfield near Minsk on Russian Il-76 military transport aircraft. According to the MoD, they were performing the task of protecting the military airfield and securing some critical facilities of the military infrastructure of Kazakhstan.

Belarusian military in Kazakhstan to secure military airfield