Kazakh President Kasym-Zomart Tokayev surprised Russian President Vladimir Putin and the entire Russian delegation when he started speaking Kazakh instead of the usual Russian during an official Russian visit to Kazakhstan. The situation when Russian officials, led by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov or Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, started looking for headphones with interpretation was caught on camera.
Pictures of the Russian delegation looking for headphones with Russian translation have circulated on social media. Kazakh President Tokayev surprised with his speech, not because of its content, but because he delivered it in Kazakh.
In Astana, Tokayev met with the Russian president as part of Putin’s visit to Kazakhstan. The Russian president reportedly tried to strengthen relations with Kazakhstan as an important economic partner amid tensions with the West. His visit today was Putin’s third known foreign trip since March, when the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for him on war crimes charges.
“We say that Russia and Kazakhstan are allies. I would like to emphasize that we in Russia, in any case, perceive it as not just allies, but the closest allies,” Putin said, according to the TASS agency. They agreed with Tokaev on cooperation in the fields of trade, industry, culture, space, defense, military technology, healthcare and the nuclear sector, among other things.
According to Reuters, Tokayev carefully balances on the border of neutrality as far as the conflict in Ukraine is concerned. He welcomed Putin just a week after receiving French President Emmanuel Macron. A delegation from the United States, led by a high-ranking official of the State Department, also visited Astana this week. Despite strong economic relations with Russia, Astana also refuses to recognize its annexation of Ukrainian territories.
“We are confident that we will definitely retain the first place in the world in terms of exports of an important commodity – wheat,” Putin told a business conference, according to which Russia will have about 60 million tons of wheat available for export after a strong harvest. Western sanctions imposed on Russian banks and companies have made it difficult for Russian exporters to transport grain and secure payments, although they do not directly affect agricultural products, Reuters notes.
Kazakhstan is seeking to become a logistics hub for Russian commodities bound for China and Iran, officials say. The Central Asian country already operates a rail link between Russia and China and has a link with Iran along the Caspian Sea. Both countries maintain brisk relations with Moscow, with Beijing being its most important ally. The Russian military also uses Iranian-made Shahed drones to attack Ukraine.