Kazakhstan strengthened relations with NATO and United States Central Command (CENTCOM) in a series of meetings in the summer of 2021 that corresponded with the drawdown in Afghanistan.
In September 2021, Margulan Baimukhan, head of the Kazakh delegation to NATO, presented his credentials to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. They discussed cooperation between Kazakhstan and NATO that included defense- and security-related domestic reforms enshrined in the Individual Partnership Action Plan program between Kazakhstan and NATO for 2022-2025.
During the meeting, Baimukhan and Stoltenberg touched on the situation in Afghanistan and potential ways to extend humanitarian aid to the Afghan people. Baimukhan also emphasized Kazakhstan’s contribution to strengthening international security, including the service of 120 Kazakh peacekeepers in Lebanon as part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon mission.
NATO established ties with Kazakhstan in 1992, when the post-Soviet republic joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council. Kazakhstan later joined the Partnership for Peace program, which has been promoting bilateral cooperation between NATO and individual countries in the Euro-Atlantic region since 1994.
Earlier in the summer, Gen. Lt. Timur Dandybayev, then Kazakhstan’s deputy minister of defense, held discussions with Vice Adm. James Malloy, deputy commander of CENTCOM, at its headquarters in Florida.
The two leaders reiterated the countries’ ongoing cooperation on issues such as counterterrorism, border security and military exercises. In light of the change of government in Afghanistan, Kazakhstan expressed support for a continued strategic relationship with the U.S. and its partners.
Kazakhstan is actively involved in military training, exercises, disaster planning and policy planning with NATO and the U.S. Two large joint exercises in which troops from Kazakhstan participate are Steppe Eagle and Regional Cooperation. The training helps prepare Kazakh troops for multinational stabilization missions.
Sources: Kazinform, Delovoi Kazakhstan, NATO, Regnum