Kazakh experts doubt anti-Russian sanctions can damage Kazakhstan24 july 2014, 19:50
The tragedy of MH17 last week pushed some Western leaders to once again consider stepping up sanctions against Russia. Some experts expressed concern that increased economic penalties against Russia could hit Kazakhstan as well. There are, however, those who believe that Kazakhstan would not only manage to avoid negative consequences from the sanction, but will even benefit in some ways from the situation, Tengrinews reports citing Almaty TV channel.
Russia is Kazakhstan's northern neighbour. They share a huge common border of 6,846 kilometres. Russia is Kazakhstan's number one trade partner with their mutual trade worth $23.5 billion last year. This makes it likely that a recoil from sanctions against Russia may be felt in Kazakhstan, since the two countries are so close geographically and economically.
Great Britain is now calling for EU countries to ban imports of Russian guns. On their part, the United States have already imposed a ban on import of products of Kalashnikov Concern and Rostec State Corporation, two large Russian producers of armaments and equipment. Many believe, that these bans might inhibit the development of Russia's military industry and even space programs of both Russia and Kazakhstan. However weapons are far not the main export item for Russia, to the anti-arms sanctions are unlikely to deal a crushing blow to the country's economy.
Kazakh political scientist Walikhan Tuleshev believes that Kazakhstan has nothing to worry about: “For Kazakhstan the sanctions against Russian politicians and organizations are neutral. We have stated its clearly and firmly that the nature of our relations in the Eurasian Economic Union is purely pragmatic. We do not approve of violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and we support the independence of our own state and other states alike.”
Kazakh economist Magbat Spanov went even further and asserted that Kazakhstan could find benefits in the situation. “We need to use each disadvantage to our advantage. Turn lemon into lemonade, so to say. Kazakhstan is not part to the conflict, and therefore, Kazakhstan may become the conduit to fill in the gaps that might emerge in the Russian economy,” he said.
In general, according to the experts, the situation in Ukraine and anti-Russian sanctions will not affect Kazakhstan’s decision to enter the WTO. The terms and conditions of its membership in the organization are already being negotiated.
Writing by Dinara Urazova, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina