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Meeting with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu

January 13, 2022, The Kremlin, Moscow

The President had a working meeting with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Shoigu, please.

I would like you to report on the progress and completion of our peacekeeping mission, our participation in the  CSTO peacekeeping mission.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu: Mr President, in keeping with the decision of the Collective Security Council and the presidents and heads of state and government of the CSTO member states, we immediately began the planning and implementation of the operation to form and deploy CSTO peacekeeping troops.

Our General Staff is keeping in touch with our colleagues from Kazakhstan, of course, as well as with all the other defence ministers. We have organised an airlift. It involved over 80 military transport aircraft, because we needed to airlift peacekeepers from all the CSTO member states, including Belarus, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, as well as Russian military personnel and their equipment.

Vladimir Putin: From Armenia.

Sergei Shoigu: Yes, certainly, from Armenia.

Armenia as the current chair of the CSTO was to play the main role in preparing what I can describe as documented decisions. All this has been done.

We began the operation on schedule and airlifted all the troops very quickly. We assumed control of 14 facilities, which are now of paramount importance, of course. They are communication, energy and life support facilities and facilities vital for the activities of the state. Acting at the request of the Kazakhstani authorities and in accordance with your instructions, we have also placed several other facilities, which could pose a serious threat if seized by terrorists, under our protection.

We have established a sustainable command system and a headquarters. The officer who has been appointed commander of the forces on the ground is Colonel General [Andrei] Serdyukov, Commander of the Russian Airborne Forces. He assumed office immediately.

We did everything in accordance with our training during drills, sending in the lead group, deploying the forward-based forces and taking over control of the infrastructure necessary for the airlift operation and our activities.

Today we held a meeting of the CSTO Council of Defence Ministers where we reviewed a plan and made a decision to transfer various facilities for protection by Kazakhstan’s security agencies. It was impossible to do this before because our goal was different in the first days – to release those agencies from protecting the facilities. The quick pace of this operation allowed us to release about 1,600 security officers to fight the criminals who brought chaos to the republic.

I would like to repeat that as of today, everything is under control, and our coordination is excellent. We endorsed a plan for the step by step withdrawal and transfer of these facilities for protection to Kazakhstan.

We will begin our withdrawal today. Tomorrow, we will airlift the forces of all our colleagues – Armenia, Tajikistan and Belarus – with 14 aircraft. Our Kyrgyz partners will withdraw on their own since they are close. In the next five days, as we will be transferring the facilities, we plan to withdraw the remaining peacekeeping forces and complete everything on January 19.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Shoigu, CSTO peacekeepers have played a very important role in stabilising the situation in Kazakhstan, our closest partner and ally. President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev made this evaluation himself.

Indeed, we managed to take all vital structures and infrastructure facilities under our protection and release a considerable number of service personnel and law enforcement units to carry out special operations inside the country.

As I said, the groups who protested for a reduction in energy prices and the armed groups who fought the armed forces for several days, encircling them in their places of deployment, are completely different groups with different goals.

It is very important that the CSTO forces have helped bring the situation back to normal and restore law and order. In fact, this is the first CSTO operation like this. We performed a very important task through a concerted effort. This will allow the leadership of the Republic of Kazakhstan to resolve socioeconomic and political problems in a dialogue with society in a calm atmosphere. This is very important.

Our military aviation transport played a big role in this respect; this is clear. We managed to deploy and concentrate our military equipment and personnel, our resources, in a short span of time. Everything went like clockwork: quickly, smoothly and efficiently.

I would like to thank you, the General Staff, all those who were in charge of the operation for this work and to express the hope that this practice of using our armed forces will be carefully analysed and improved accordingly, if necessary. Now it is time to go home – we have fulfilled our mission.

Thank you.

Sergei Shoigu: Thank you, Mr President.

January 13, 2022, The Kremlin, Moscow