Russian-led bloc starts withdrawing troops from Kazakhstan

Gradual pullout of nearly 2,500 collective security personnel to be completed within 10 days.

Russian-led bloc starts withdrawing troops from Kazakhstan

The gradual withdrawal of Russian-led troops from Kazakhstan has started, local media reported on Thursday.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) peacekeeping forces from Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan were sent back to their countries at a farewell ceremony held at the Sagadat Nurmagambetov Land Forces Military University in Almaty, the former capital.

Attending the ceremony were Kazakhstan's Deputy Defense Minister Mukhamedzhan Talasov, CSTO Secretary-General Stanislav Zas, CSTO Peacekeeping Force Commander Anatoly Serdyukov, and Almaty Governor Bakytzhan Sagintayev, according to Kazinform news agency.

Meanwhile, the withdrawal procedure will be approved by the CSTO member nations' Council of Defense Ministers, whose extraordinary video conferencing is scheduled for Thursday.

The CSTO peacekeeping force consisting of nearly 2,500 soldiers and 250 equipment will completely withdraw from the former Soviet country within 10 days.

On Wednesday, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev met with Zas and thanked the CSTO allies for their support and assistance amid what he called a "terror attack" on Kazakhstan.

Meanwhile, the Kazakh presidency announced in a statement that as of Wednesday, the state of emergency was lifted in northern Kazakhstan, Pavlodar, and west Kazakhstan regions.

Also, the country's National Security Committee reported that the "red terrorism threat level" was canceled in 14 regions, including the capital Nur-Sultan.

On Jan. 2, protests broke out in Kazakhstan over a rise in liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) prices in the city of Zhanaozen in Mangystau, which later turned into clashes with the police, with the most violent developments in Kazakhstan's former capital Almaty.

Tokayev then requested help from the CSTO allies and in a short period, peacekeepers from Russia, Belarus, Armenia, and Tajikistan arrived in the country and backed the Kazakh law enforcement in restoring order.