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Jen Psaki dismisses Russian claims that US is behind Kazakhstan unrest

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Michael_Novakhov
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from Callie Patteson | New York Post.

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As more violent protests broke out in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki insisted the United States has nothing to do with the unrest in the former Soviet republic, calling rumors to the contrary xe2x80x9ccrazy Russian claims.xe2x80x9dxc2xa0

xe2x80x9cWexe2x80x99re monitoring reports of protests in Kazakhstan. We support calls for calm, for protesters to express themselves peacefully and for authorities to exercise restraint,xe2x80x9d Psaki told reporters during her regular briefing.xc2xa0

xe2x80x9cThere 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.xe2x80x9d

Hours earlier, Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev declared a state of emergency as government buildings were attacked across the city of Almaty. Soon after, the government of Prime Minister Askar Mamin announced its resignation, but Tokayev said the ministers would remain in their roles until a new cabinet is formed, making it uncertain whether the resignation will have significant effect.

The violent protests were sparked by a significant increase in fuel prices. The price of liquefied gas, mainly used for heating and cooking, doubled to 120 tenge ($0.27) per liter. In Kazakhstan, the minimum wage is 42,500 tenge ($98) per month.xc2xa0

The unrest comes amid growing tensions between Russia and another neighbor, Ukraine.xc2xa0

Throughout 2021, Russian President Vladimir Putin pressed NATO and the US to promise not to let Ukraine join the trans-Atlantic alliance xe2x80x94 while simultaneously increasing Russiaxe2x80x99s military presence along its western border.xc2xa0

Putin has repeatedly pushed for the security guarantees, telling President Biden as recently as last month that xe2x80x9cRussia needs legally binding agreementsxe2x80x9d on the requests.xc2xa0

In turn, the US has warned Russia against invading Ukraine xe2x80x94 as many fear a reprise of 2014, when Russia invaded and annexed the province of Crimea.xc2xa0

During a Dec. 30 call between Biden and Putin, the American president xe2x80x9curged Russia to de-escalate tensions with Ukrainexe2x80x9d and warned that xe2x80x9cthe United States and its allies and partners will respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine,xe2x80x9d according to Psaki.

Starting Jan. 10, Russia and the US will hold security talks in Geneva to discuss Moscowxe2x80x99s request. NATO will then meet with Russia two days later, followed by another meeting with other European allies on Jan. 13.xc2xa0

xe2x80x9cRussia is very familiar with our positions, which are grounded in the fundamental principles of European security they once agreed to,xe2x80x9d Psaki said Wednesday, xe2x80x9cincluding that borders cannot be redrawn by force, and countries have the sovereign right to determine with whom they associate.xe2x80x9d

xe2x80x9cWe donxe2x80x99t know what next weekxe2x80x99s conversations will bring,xe2x80x9d she added. xe2x80x9cBut our approach to the discussions will be pragmatic, results-oriented, and we believe there are areas we can make progress on with Moscow, make progress on if they come to the table ready to do that. And obviously thatxe2x80x99s the nature of diplomacy.xe2x80x9d

With Post wires

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