Why Kazakhstan and Ukraine's Relations "Froze"


Diplomatic relations between Kazakhstan and Ukraine are virtually frozen. According to our sources, Darkhan Kaletayev has been in Astana for about six months without officially leaving the post of Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan to Ukraine. At the same time, after the dismissal of Pyotr Vrublevsky, there is still no Ukrainian ambassador in the capital of Kazakhstan. Orda.kz decided to discuss the situation with a deputy from the Servant of the People party.

Serhiy Nahornyak is a well-known person in Ukraine and Kazakhstan. He heads the inter-parliamentary group "Ukraine — Kazakhstan" and has visited our country more than once. In 2019, to commemorate the Independence Day of Kazakhstan, he came to the Ukrainian parliament in clothes with the symbols of the Republic of Kazakhstan. In 2023, thanks to the efforts of Nahornyak, traditional Kazakh yurts appeared in Kyiv and other cities. People could keep warm in them among other things. 

Orda.kz: Since October 2022, there has been no Ambassador of Ukraine in Kazakhstan. There is also information that Darkhan Kaletayev, although he remains an ambassador, has left Kyiv. Against this background, relations between Kazakhstan and Ukraine seem to have cooled, and diplomatic contacts minimized. In your opinion, why has this situation emerged and how can we remedy it? 

Serhiy Nahornyak: Diplomatic relations between Kazakhstan and Ukraine have indeed cooled over the past year. And our countries have lost a lot from this. There is always a way out. We need talks between our presidents. Both Qasym-Jomart Toqayev and Volodymyr Zelenskyy are wise politicians, I am sure that they will be able to find common ground for restarting diplomatic relations. 

Orda.kz: Who do you think should be appointed to the post of Ambassador of Ukraine to Kazakhstan? Perhaps you would like to see someone in this capacity? 

Serhiy Nahornyak: It is important for Ukraine to make the right choice with a candidate for the post of ambassador to Kazakhstan. It is important that this person already has communication with both the authorities in the Republic of Kazakhstan, as well as with representatives of business and public organizations. Now it is important to focus on the relations between our countries in the fields of culture, education, and the economy. Definitely less politics! We have many areas in common for development, which our relationship can only strengthen. It is important not to repeat past mistakes. 

Photo: from Serhiy Nahornyak.

Orda.kz: How would you assess the current relations between Ukraine and Kazakhstan overall? 

Serhiy Nahornyak: Despite the cooling in the diplomatic sphere, Ukrainians' relations with the citizens of Kazakhstan are the warmest. I can say this with confidence. And I know how cordially and warmly the citizens of Kazakhstan treat Ukrainians. I have visited Kazakhstan 11 times myself and have always noted your hospitality, hard work, and people's kindness. I often receive guests from the Republic of Kazakhstan and see how much they like coming to Kyiv. Kazakhs fall in love with Kyiv on their first visit, it often reminds them of Almaty.

Orda.kz: From the very beginning of the full-scale war, the leadership of Kazakhstan took a neutral position. But at the same time, we sent humanitarian aid. There was a lot of support from the citizens of Kazakhstan. Do you know if such support is being received now?

Serhiy Nahornyak: We greatly appreciate the position of President Toqayev, who clearly and publicly made it clear that Kazakhstan does not recognize the quasi-states of the DPR and LPR. This is important for us. We are grateful to Official Kazakhstan for humanitarian assistance at the beginning of the war, and special thanks to the business of the Republic of Kazakhstan for generators, yurts, and the restoration of medical institutions in Ukraine. And, of course, to the citizens of Kazakhstan, who, from the first days of the war in Ukraine, came to our embassy, to volunteers, and gave aid to our citizens. We still feel the warmth of your hearts! 

Photo: from Serhiy Nahornyak.

Orda.kz: Last year, during Russia's massive bombardment of Ukraine's energy facilities, in some cities there were yurts of indestructibility, set up by Kazakhstanis living in Ukraine. Are there plans to install such yurts this year, and if so, where and who is the initiator?

Serhiy Nahornyak: The project "Yurts of Indestructibility" has brought our countries very close! Ukrainians left thousands of words of gratitude to the citizens of Kazakhstan in the books for reviews that are in our yurts and which we will definitely give you. We saw how close we are mentally, how strong the ties between our peoples are. More than 100 thousand citizens visited the Kyiv yurt alone in a year. And everyone had their own history of ties with Kazakhstan. Sometimes it seemed to us that there was half a country with Kazakhs in Ukraine. 

Now this project continues to operate in Kyiv, Nikolaev, Odessa, and frontline Slovyansk. And just a few days ago, together with the Diaspora, the Minister of Culture of Ukraine, and myself, as the initiator of this project, we opened a new project in the Cherkasy region, in the city of Zvenyhorodka, in the homeland of Taras Shevchenko — "Tarasov Yurt". This year, the 210th anniversary of the birth of our genius is celebrated at the state level, and we want Ukrainians, fellow countrymen of our Shevchenko, to be able to see and get acquainted with the culture of Kazakhstan, where our Kobzar (Shevchenko - Ed.) was in exile for 10 long years.

Over the years, Taras Shevchenko has painted 450 paintings, 120 poems, and about 20 novels. In his works, Shevchenko described the Kazakhs' way of life and kindness with great sympathy. And that's why he was respected by them. This project has brought about great interest, and now many schools are booking time for excursions and open lessons in literature, history, and drawing. There are copies of Shevchenko's works in the yurt, which he painted in Kazakhstan.

Photo: from Serhiy Nahornyak.

Orda.kz: Qasym-Jomart Toqayev and Volodymyr Zelenskyy have not spoken for almost a year. The last telephone conversation between them took place on February 16, 2023. Does this indicate a cooling of the relationship or is there no reason to meet?

Serhiy Nahornyak: Such a lively meeting is essential! Our presidents have a lot to discuss. These are primarily the issues of resuming diplomatic relations and restarting them. And Kazakhstan could become a country that would take on a very important mission for us to free civilians, especially children who are now on the territory of the Russian Federation. In this regard, we need a partner who maintains relations with Russia and friendly relations with Ukraine. Thousands of our children were illegally taken from Ukraine to Russia by the military. It is very important for us to bring them home! I am sure that Kazakhstan could become our partner in this difficult issue. 

For the two countries, we need to use our strong ties on the Ukrainian side with the United States and the countries of the European Union, where we have good communication, and on your part with China and the countries of Central Asia. Communication and warm relations between our presidents and the leaders of these countries will be useful to each other.

I truly want a meeting of the leaders of our countries to take place in Ukraine or Kazakhstan.

Original Author: Igor Ulitin

DISCLAIMER: This is a translated piece. The text has been modified, the content is the same. Please refer to the original piece in Russian for accuracy. 

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