Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Ukrainian War Seen Depressing Number of Ethnic Russians Leaving Kazakhstan Long After End of Conflict

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Apr. 13 – The number of ethnic Russians leaving the predominantly northern parts of Kazakhstan for the Russian Federation has not recovered from the covid pandemic but instead has gone even lower because of the impact of Putin’s war in Ukraine on life there, Kazakhstan experts say.

            All the experts surveyed by Alliyar Auezbek, an Astana sociologist, agree that the numbers have not recovered. Some believe that this is a temporary phenomenon and ethnic Russians will resume going back to Russia as soon as the war and sanctions end, but others do not (cabar.asia/ru/kak-vojna-povliyala-na-emigratsiyu-russkih-iz-kazahstana-v-rossiyu).

            Instead, they say that the war will cast a shadow on Russia long into the future. Not only will it take Russia decades to overcome the sanctions, but many of the returning veterans from the Ukrainian war now have become involved in violent crime. As a result, it would be “irrational” for ethnic Russians in Kazakhstan to think about going back to Russia anytime soon.

            This pattern is a remind that decisions about migration reflect not only conditions in the place where people have been living and the ease of making any change but also the conditions in the country where they might like to move to. If those are judged to be bad, even bad conditions in their current place of residence may not be a sufficient motivator. 

            The pattern documented in Kazakhstan is likely to be true in other former Soviet republics as well and thus will make the achievement of Putin's plans to have Russian-speaking people from these republics return to Russia in large numbers anytime soon impossible. 

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