In an exclusive interview with Euractiv, the first deputy chief of Kazakh President’s Office, Timur Suleimenov, on March 29 discussed the war in Ukraine, the impact of Western sanctions on Kazakhstan, the drive for modernization following the January unrest and changing geopolitical balances.

Concerning the Ukraine crisis and sanctions imposed by the West on Russia, Suleimenov said Kazakhstan will not be a tool to circumvent the sanctions on Russia by the US and the EU.

“We are going to abide by the sanctions. Even though we are part of the Economic Union with Russia, Belarus and other countries, we are also part of the international community.  Therefore the last thing we want is secondary sanctions of the US and the EU to be applied to Kazakhstan.  And the third thing is to discuss the means to expand our cooperation with the EU,” Kazakh official noted.

He further noted that Kazakhstan will continue trading with Russia, continue investing in Russia and attracting investment for Russia: “there is no way for our economy to do it differently.” 

According to him, Russia wanted Kazakhstan to be more on their side.  “But Kazakhstan respects the territorial integrity of Ukraine.  We did not recognize and will not recognize the Crimea situation and neither the Donbas situation because the UN does not recognize them.  We will only respect decisions taken at the level of the United Nations,” Suleimenov said. 

Meanwhile, says Kazakh Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi told reporters on April 5 that Suleimenov has announced the official position of the country on the situation in Ukraine and sanctions imposed on Russia.  He stressed, “To-date, Kazakhstan has not recognized either the Lugansk People’s Republic (LNR) or the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and it should not be used to circumvent the sanctions imposed on Russia.”