How Kazakhstan's New President Will Navigate His Country's Role in the Global Great Power Competition

May 24, 2019 | 05:30 GMT

Kazakhstan's acting President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev sits next to Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting at the Kremlin.

Kazakhstan's acting President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Tokayev will be filling the shoes of Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has been not only the sole president of post-Soviet Kazakhstan but also the founder of the modern Kazakh nation.



  • Upcoming presidential elections in Kazakhstan are all but guaranteed to cement the succession process from long-serving President Nursultan Nazarbayev to Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
  • The succession is likely to be smooth at first, but Tokayev's task of managing a slowing economy and related socioeconomic issues will be a difficult one.
  • While Tokayev is unlikely to pursue significant shifts in Kazakhstan's foreign policy in the short term, he will increasingly struggle to maintain a balance between Russia and China as the power dynamics between the two key actors shift in Central Asia.

Kazakhstan is undergoing the first succession process in its post-Soviet history, one that is likely to begin smoothly but eventually encounter economic, political and foreign policy problems. This succession may challenge Kazakhstan's domestic stability and also reverberate in the global power strategies of key external players Russia and China, who are competing for influence in the country....

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