Kazakhstan has seen widespread riots sparked by skyrocketing fuel prices and some are concerned that a U.S. funded “military biological laboratory” may have fallen into the hands of rioters.
Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev called the rioters “a band of terrorists” and authorized Russian military forces to “fire without warning” on those behind the riots after declaring the country under attack.
The Daily Mail reported:
Russian media highlighted claims that the US-funded facility near Almaty was compromised, resulting in a possible leak of dangerous pathogens.
The airport, mayor’s office and secret services buildings fell briefly into the hands of rioters during a wave of protests backed by shadowy armed cells.
The secret bio-laboratory funded by the US defense department – which has links to Russian and Chinese scientists – was also compromised in the disturbances, according to social media claims that it was seized. …
Official Russian news agency TASS had highlighted alleged social media reports that it was taken over by “unidentified people’”and “specialists in chemical protection suits were working near the lab so a leak of dangerous pathogens could have occurred.”
The laboratory’s existence has been controversial and in 2020 the country formally denied that it was being used to make biological weapons.
Kazakhstan’s government, meanwhile, has denied the claims that the lab has been seized.
“This is not true,” said the health ministry which is responsible for the Central Reference Laboratory. “The facility is being guarded.”
Erica Marat, a professor at National Defense University, a military university in Washington, said that Tokayev’s move to rely on Russia to help quash the violence meant that he “traded his country’s sovereignty to Russia for his own power and the interests of kleptocratic elites” and that the move “is really about making Kazakhstan a more submissive, more loyal partner” to “Russia against the West in geopolitical and global matters.”
The political destabilization in Kazakhstan is a direct threat to Russia as this is now the third uprising against an authoritarian nation aligned with Russia over the last several years.
“The chaos threatens to undermine Moscow’s sway in the region at a time when Russia is trying to assert its economic and geopolitical power in countries like Ukraine and Belarus,” The New York Times reported.
“The countries of the former Soviet Union are also watching the protests closely, and the events in Kazakhstan could help energize opposition forces elsewhere.”
The instability in the country is also worth watching to the U.S. in relation to the potential energy implications it may have.
“Kazakhstan also matters to the United States, as it has become a significant country for American energy concerns, with Exxon Mobil and Chevron having invested tens of billions of dollars in western Kazakhstan, the region where the unrest began this month,” The Times added.
“Although it has close ties with Moscow, consecutive Kazakh governments have also maintained close links to the United States, with oil investment seen as a counterweight to Russian influence.”
Author: Mason Sousa