Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who has close historical ties with Russia, declined Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's offer of nuclear weapons for nations willing “to join the Union State of Russia and Belarus.”
What Happened: Kazakhstan, which has refused to recognize Vladimir Putin's annexation of parts of Ukraine, dismissed Lukashenko’s invitation to join the Minsk-Moscow union.
“I appreciated his joke,” Tokayev’s office quoted him as saying on Telegram, reported Reuters.
The presidential office said that Kazakhstan was already a member of a broader Moscow-led trade bloc, the Eurasian Economic Union, and thinks no further integration was necessary.
“As for nuclear weapons, we do not need them because we have joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty,” he said.
“We remain committed to our obligations under those international documents.”
The comments were prompted by Putin ally Lukashenko's controversial statements made during an interview with Russian state-owned media. “No one minds Kazakhstan and other countries having the same close relations that we have with the Russian Federation."
“It’s very simple,” Lukashenko said, adding, “Join the Union State of Belarus and Russia. That’s all: there will be nuclear weapons for everyone.”
Why It Matters: Russia and Kazakhstan share a long history of close ties and cooperation. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Astana has been one of Russia's closest and most reliable allies in the post-Soviet space.
However, it declined to recognize the annexation of Ukraine’s eastern regions by Putin through referendums held there. "Kazakhstan proceeds from the principles of territorial integrity of states, their sovereign equivalence and peaceful coexistence," it said.
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