Staunton, October 1 – Since the Soviet Union came apart, analysts have been unanimous that the change of any of the borders among the successor states would spark demands for changes in others even far from where the first border change occurred. Now, that Moscow has illegally occupied Crimea, the fundamental truth of that observation is being confirmed.
Officially, neither Russia nor Kazakhstan has territorial claims against the other, a fact that was confirmed by the border agreement between the two in 2005. But official positions are one thing, the Russian blogger says; and “politics is quite another” and nationalists have agendas (zen.yandex.ru/media/id/5cf423b7ddc81b00afb21858/na-kakie-territorii-rossii-pretenduet-kazahstan-5d919d92ec575b00b0c89457).
To the northeast of Kazakhstan, few Kazakhs have aspirations to absorb Tuva, Khakassia or the Altay, regions created on the basis of very different ethnic groups, although some of them are relatively distant relations to the Turkic Kazakhs. But to the north and west of Kazakhstan, the situation is different.
“This is the southern part of Siberia and the Middle Volga, including in the first instance Astrakhan, Volgograd and Saratov oblasts. There are sizeable Kazakh populations in each: 150,000 in Astrakhan, 46,000 in Volgograd, and 76,000 in Saratov, and some Kazakh nationalists believe they should be part of Kazakhstan as a result.
The territory of Omsk, Orenburg, Chelyabinsk and Kurgan oblasts is more sensitive. Historically, this was the land of the Ural Cossacks, and to this day, ethnic Russian retain their majority. But Orenburg was at the dawn of Soviet times (1920-1925) the capital of what became Kazakhstan, something many Kazakhs have not forgotten.
But Orenburg Oblast is sensitive for Moscow for another reason. It is the bridge between Kazakhstan and the Turkic republics of the Middle Volga and constitutes what some call “the Orenburg Corridor” and which some Tatars and Bashkirs believe could open the way for their independence.
On this critical land, see jamestown.org/program/the-orenburg-corridor-and-the-future-of-the-middle-volga/ and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/11/orenburg-corridor-threatens-russia-more.html. What makes this new article so intriguing is that it suggests that there are among the Kazakhs people who are prepared to respond – or at least that Moscow thinks so
But parts of the Russian Federation are not the only objects of interest for Kazakh nationalists, the blogger says. Some want to absorb Karakalpakistan, now an autonomous formation within Uzbekistan but whose people are linguistically and culturally closer to the Kazakhs and whose territory was in the early Soviet period under Kazakh control.
There too there is an echo on the other side of the border: At least some Karakalpaks want to become part of Kazakhstan and more think that expanding relations with Kazakhstan will allow them to get out from under Tashkent and move toward independence (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/10/karakalpak-activists-charge-tashkent.html and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2015/06/karakalpak-separatists-in-uzbekistan.html).
And the Russian blogger ends by posting a map suggesting that some in Kazakhstan would even like to absorb part of Uzbekistan, including that country’s capital, Tashkent, although the author provides no evidence and this writer has not seen any expression of interest in this in Kazakh nationalist writings.
Nonetheless, one can only agree with the blogger’s contention that people are talking “and the example of Crimea for many has turned out to be infectious.”