Is Kazakhstan Putin’s Next Target?
Peter Eltzov and Klaus Larres contend that Russia’ Vladimir Putin may not halt the advance of his military forces in Crimea, but could set his sights on Kazakhstan next.
Noting the dissatisfaction with the ruling elite in Kazakhstan, Eltzov and Larres posit that Russia could seize on that unrest to act.
“Russians in Kazakhstan constitute about 24 percent of the population—more than 3 million people. In northern Kazakhstan, almost 50 percent of the population is Russian, with some areas having a majority of Russians. It is not inconceivable—following the logic behind the annexation of Crimea by the Russian army—that Putin may, at some point, want to return parts of northern Kazakhstan to the Russian orbit, particularly if this country becomes politically unstable,” they argue.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s former president, Viktor Yanukovich, has indicated he will petition the US Congress and Supreme Court for a legal decision regarding the $1bn in aid the US has pledged to Ukraine, reports Russian Television (RT).
“As far as I’m concerned, under US law it’s illegal to provide financial assistance to the government of any state that has been overthrown by a military coup or other illegal circumstances,” said Yanukovich, who insists that he is still the legitimate leader of Ukraine.
Fears Of Terrorism – And A Backlash – High In China
In the days since the disappearance of the Malaysian Airlines flight, fears of terrorism have been heightened in China, writes Rachel Lu. In China, many already were on high alert following a recent knife attack by members of a separatist group from the northwest province of Xinjiang. As many as 29 were left dead.
The rampant spread of rumors on social media and the Internet was a stark contrast to reporting by state media sources, which Lu says extremely limited and sparse. While it is true that the government is exercising some restraint due to a lack of information, the underlying reason for their silence is the state’s fear of sparking anti-Muslim sentiments that have been high since the stabbings.
According to Lu, the “Chinese authorities are almost certainly wary of causing mass panic or worsening ethnic tensions in the wake of the Kunming attack. Beijing is known for a hard stance on what it calls Xinjiang’s separatists, but widespread ethnic hatred would not serve its stated objective of social stability. If anything, it would demonstrate that the government’s policy of encouraging waves of majority Han Chinese to settle in the Western region, one dominated by Uighurs, a Turkic minority, has not worked.”
Venezuela Nearing The Edge
Author Rafael Osio Cabrices warns in a New York Times op-ed that Venezuela may be on the verge of losing any semblance of the democracy it was fifteen years ago. Furthermore, he believes, the protests that have lasted for the last month have not imperiled the Maduro government. In fact, they may be strengthening his grip on power.
“At this point, nobody — no political party, no social movement, no one leader — is in charge of the protests. The demonstrations have created a political crisis all right, but it is a crisis less for the government than for its opponents. After years of struggling to forge a coalition, the opposition seems divided again,” Cabrices asserts.