Speaking in the course of the Open Dialogue (“Открытый диалог”) television program, Minister of Information and Communication Dauren Abayev made a comment on the theme of establishing military bases at the Caspian Sea that had recently been observed within the Russian and Kazakhstani segments of the Internet. He provided necessary explanations on the matter.
Mr. Abayev referred to the media claims concerning the possibility of American use of the Kazakh naval bases and strongly denied press reports making such allegations, describing them as fakes.
“The convention proclaims: first, the Caspian a zone of peace, good-neighborliness, friendship and cooperation; Second, non-presence of armed forces of non-littoral countries in the Caspian; Third, ban on navigation for ships of non-littoral countries in the Caspian.
A priori, it is impossible for Kazakhstan to allow the presence of foreign armed forces in the Caspian, let alone the installation of their military bases on its coastal territories. As to the issue regarding the transit of non-military cargo for the International security assistance force in Afghanistan via Kazakhstan, that, of course, is another matter. The case in question entails making a definite contribution to the de-escalation of terrorism in the region and helping preserve the interests of peace and security, including those in the region”, he said.
Earlier, Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov told Russia’s Sputnik news agency that the establishment of US military bases at the Caspian Sea “is out of question”.
As is known, the Republic of Kazakhstan recently amended a 2010 agreement with the U.S. on using commercial railways to move special cargo for the International security assistance force in Afghanistan. What is meant in this regard is the transit of non-military cargo for the Resolute Support (RS), a follow-on mission to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The deal was expanded to add the ports of Aqtau and nearby Kuryk to the Northern Distribution Network (NDN), which was established in 2008 in response to the increased risk of sending supplies through Pakistan. Initially, the NDN connected Baltic and Caspian Sea ports with Afghanistan through Russia, Central Asia and the Caucuses, using sea, rail and truck transport. On May 15 2015, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev issued a resolution closing the Northern Distribution Network. Hence it became necessary to use the ports of Aqtau and Kuryk in Kazakhstan. Astana’s consent to that was gratefully received by Washington.
“I greatly appreciate the president’s personal assurances that Kazakhstan will continue to provide critical logistical support and access for our troops fighting ISIS and the Taliban, where we have made tremendous strides”, American President Donald Trump told a media briefing after his January summit with the Kazakh leader.
About a month ago, Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev and the leaders of four other countries surrounding the Caspian Sea came together to unequivocally resolve issues relating to the world’s largest inland sea and its potentially enormous oil and natural gas reserves.
They met in the Kazakhstani port city of Aqtau, and signed the Convention on the Caspian Sea’s legal status. Thus, they managed to settle a two-decade-long dispute over those resources. In the opinion of economic experts and political observers, such a result may be easily explained. The motivation for finally achieving a solution to the question of the Caspian Sea’s legal status, most likely, was the battle for regional hegemony between the Russian Federation and the United States of America.
In Aqtau, the leaders of the Caspian states agreed, in principle, to accept territorial waters stretching 24 kilometers from their shores, plus fishing areas extending out another 16 kilometers. The rest of the sea is to be shared.
Some observers believe that Moscow played a decisive role in reaching consensus on the Caspian Sea’s legal status.
The agreement “ensures the Caspian Sea’s truly peaceful status and the absence of extra-regional states’ militaries there”, Putin said after the summit. This question, i.e. the military factor appears to have been the primary concern of Russia’s leadership.