Unlike most instances where there's crisis or conflicts near Russia's borders, the White House has been slow to respond to fast-moving events in Kazakhstan, only saying that it questions the "legitimacy" of the Kremlin sending troops to the country to help restore order under the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
"We are closely monitoring reports that the Collective Security Treaty Organization have dispatched its collective peacekeeping forces to Kazakhstan," press secretary Jen Psaki said. "We have questions about the nature of this request and whether it has — it was a legitimate invitation or not. We don’t know at this point."
The day prior she had denounced as "crazy" reports out of Russian media that the US and its allies could be stoking the uprising, unrest and destruction - which has seen a presidential residence and multiple government buildings torched, and widespread looting, after dozens of deaths on both the police and protest side. More recently Beijing has also floated that it believes the likelihood that the US is covertly involved.
It was during her Wednesday press briefing that Psaki called out the "Russian disinformation playbook" while addressing the Kazakhstan situation:
"We’re monitoring reports of protests in Kazakhstan. We support calls for calm, for protesters to express themselves peacefully and for authorities to exercise restraint," Psaki told reporters during her regular briefing.
"There are some crazy Russian claims about the US being behind this. Let me just use this opportunity to convey that as absolutely false, and clearly a part of the standard Russian disinformation playbook."
Meanwhile China appears to be backing President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev's crackdown on the protests and riots, as well as the deployment of Russian and other foreign peacekeeping troops there. NPR has in its latest cited the presence of at least 3,000 Russian troops on the ground in Kazakhstan at this point.
"China supports all efforts that help the Kazakh authorities end the chaos as soon as possible and firmly opposes external forces’ acts to deliberately create social unrest and incite violence," Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in a Friday press conference. He offered help to Kazakh authorities, calling China ready to act as a "a brotherly neighbor".
Into last night, firefights continued in the large city of Almaty and other cities:
Further, according to Bloomberg, President Xi Jinping weighed in firmly on the side of Tokayev and Moscow, saying "strong measures" could be required:
China has backed Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s violent crackdown on protesters, saying it hopes the "strong measures" will bring calm. President Xi Jinping said the country firmly opposes external forces deliberately fostering unrest and instigating a "color revolution" in Kazakhstan. China is willing to provide necessary support and help Kazakhstan through this difficult time, Xi was cited by state broadcaster CCTV as saying in a message to his counterpart in that nation.
As state-run Global Times emphasizes, Beijing has significant oil and gas interests inside the restive country, but which have so far been spared from the mayhem and destruction.
Incredible video from the BBC showing the aftermath of yesterday’s protests in Kazakhstan’s biggest city Almaty. This is the former presidential palace there.— Patrick Reevell (@Reevellp) January 6, 2022
@abdujalil is in the city. pic.twitter.com/JJq5DYq6jO
"The protests in Kazakhstan have sparked concerns on oil and gas deliveries to China," GT writes. "However, Chinese enterprises and industry insiders said that the unrest will not have a big impact as the transportation of oil and gas are technically reliable. Local Chinese companies said that they are prepared, and the Kazakh government will also take corresponding measures to ensure the safety."