Russian forces help take control of Almaty Airport amid Kazakhstan unrest

Veniamin Kraskov /

Russian forces have helped take back control of Almaty airport (ALA), in Kazakhstan’s largest city, two days after the airport was stormed by anti-government protesters.  

On January 7, 2022, the Interfax news agency cited the Russian defense ministry as saying military units were being flown into Kazakhstan “around the clock” and that they now controlled the airport in Almaty together with Kazakh law enforcement.     

Airlines, including Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA), suspended services to ALA after the protests broke out in cities across the country on January 5, 2022, over a sharp increase in fuel prices. The unrest in the former Soviet state, which has been independent for 30 years, turned into a broader uprising against the government and corruption.  

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev had called on members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which includes Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, for help in restoring peace to the central Asian country. 

“An anti-terrorist operation has been launched. The forces of law and order are working hard. Constitutional order has largely been restored in all regions of the country,” Tokayev said on January 7, 2022, in a statement cited by the Reuters news agency. People he described as “terrorists” were still damaging property, the president added. “Therefore counter-terrorist actions should be continued until the militants are completely eliminated.” 

Flag carrier Air Astana said it would resume international flights from Nur-Sultan Airport (NQZ) in the capital on January 7, 2022. However, it added in the statement that ALA remains closed.  

Air Astana’s first flights from NQZ will be to Dubai and Moscow, plus domestic services to Atyrau, Shymkent and Turkestan. The airline said international services to Frankfurt, Germany and Kutaisi, Georgia will restart on January 8, 2022, and to Istanbul on January 9.

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