(FiveNation.com)- During a meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the Russian troops sent last week to Kazakhstan as “peacekeepers” would remain there until their mission was complete.
After recent protests in Kazakhstan turned violent last week, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev asked for assistance from the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Moscow-based alliance of six former Soviet states. Within hours, the CSTO’s council approved the deployment of peacekeepers.
Putin told the CSTO that Russian troops will remain in Kazakhstan only for a limited period, however, he did not offer a specific timeline for withdrawal, saying only that Russian troops would stay for as long as President Tokayev “considers it necessary.”
This has led some to fear that Russian troops may remain in the Central Asian country indefinitely.
Putin blamed the unrest in Kazakhstan on foreign interference, calling it indicative of foreign intervention in a region Moscow sees as within its sphere of influence. He compared the Kazakh unrest to the 2014 protests in Ukraine that ultimately led to the ouster of Ukraine’s former pro-Russian president.
He said the Russian-dominated CSTO wouldn’t allow “color revolutions” organized by anti-Russian foreign powers.
Echoing the claims made last week by President Tokayev, Putin blamed the violence in Kazakhstan on militants trained in foreign terrorist camps who have infiltrated the protests.
The protests were sparked by a rise in fuel prices in the Central Asian nation. Police have clashed with protesters in recent days, deploying water cannons, firing both tear gas and concussion grenades.
As many as 5,800 people have been detained and over 2,000 injured during last week’s violence. And according to the Kazakh Interior Ministry, eight police officers and national guard members were killed in the riots and over 300 were injured.
The Kazakh health ministry issued a statement on Sunday saying at least 164 people were killed in the violence, most of them in Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty. The statement, however, was later withdrawn.