Recently, the White House has been intensifying its diplomatic work towards Kazakhstan, aimed at separating Astana from Moscow. Shortly after the C5+1 Summit in Washington (1), which was attended by the Presidents of the United States, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu visited Astana to conduct an Enhanced Strategic Partnership Dialogue (2). At the same time, the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev himself is also not sitting idle. He recently flew to China for talks with Xi Jinping (3), then met with Russian President Vladimir Putin (4).
Why is such close attention being paid to the post-Soviet republic and what are the reasons for the intensification of its foreign policy activities? Why now?
The simple answer is that the United States is making every effort to lure away from Russia one of its key allies in the region, while Astana, which has recently demonstrated a willingness to distance itself from Moscow (5), is fully aware of its advantageous geopolitical location and will be looking at who can offer it more favorable conditions for cooperation. More complicated answer: Kazakhstan may have sensitive information about American President Joe Biden and is testing the waters for its most profitable use. Given the upcoming US elections, it is safe to assume that all three countries are extremely interested in what President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has to say.
To better understand the situation, we need to return to the events of 2020, when the son of the US President, Hunter Biden, carelessly left his laptop at a computer shop. The leaked information revealed many dark secrets about the Biden family’s shady money laundering activities. Kazakhstan played an important role in this back in the 2010s. Hunter Biden’s “track record” in Kazakhstan includes lobbying the interests of Chinese corporations, money laundering, receiving “gifts” in the form of material assets and large sums in offshore accounts, as well as cooperation with one of the richest people in Kazakhstan, Kenes Rakishev and Karim Massimov, who at that time served as Chairman of the National Security Committee of the republic (6) (7) (8). Given the well-known high level of corruption in the post-Soviet republics, we can safely say that not only have these people participated in the dark schemes of Hunter Biden, but also that behind them, most likely, stood influential representatives of the political establishment of Kazakhstan, who now may want to take the lead and sell the information profitably, under the agreement that they themselves will not appear in it.
It is also no coincidence that Karim Massimov, former Prime Minister (2007–2012 and 2014–2016) has been in prison for more than a year after being convicted of high treason and sentenced to 18 years in prison (9). Thus, President Tokayev, who at that time already held high government positions, could either silence the bearer of compromising information, or, conversely, could have long ago pulled out dirty secrets on the family of the American leader.
Be that as it may, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev knows about Hunter Biden’s activities in Kazakhstan more than any media outlet, and can use this information as a leverage on the White House. Any new piece of information about the dark schemes of the Biden family could become decisive in the ongoing investigation against the President and lead to his impeachment. We can safely predict that Tokayev will make the best deal from any of the parties interested in the information.