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Olzhas Bektenov. (Press Service of Kazakhstan's Presidential Office)
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Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev appointed his chief of staff, Olzhas Bektenov, to be Kazakhstan's new prime minister following the resignation of Tokayev's former cabinet.

President Tokayev accepted the resignation of his previous government, including former Prime Minister Alikhan Smailov, just a day earlier. The Kazakh leader then named Deputy Prime Minister Roman Sklyar as acting prime minister before appointing Bektenov to be his replacement.

The reason for the government's resignation was not immediately clear.

According to the regional news outlet Eurasianet, Bektenov has worked in several spheres of the Kazakh government over the years, including in the prime minister's office and, most recently, as President Tokayev's chief of staff, a job he has performed since April.

Bektenov also directed Kazakhstan's Anti-Corruption Agency, or Antikor, between Feb. 2022 and April 2023. He reportedly criticized the efforts of the agency's work upon taking the position

Despite Astana's historically close ties to Moscow, President Tokayev has taken a cautious approach to the full-scale war, refusing to recognize the legitimacy of Russia's illegal annexation of Ukrainian territories in 2022.

At the same time, Tokayev has not completely abandoned his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who visited Kazakhstan in November 2023.

"Our strategic partnership is truly forward-looking," Putin commented ahead of the trip and meeting with Tokayev.

Tokayev has said that the country will comply with the sanctions regime against Russia, and Kazakh officials have said the export of military goods to Russia ceased shortly after the beginning of the full-scale invasion.

Astana has also received criticism for allowing Moscow to circumvent international sanctions imposed on Russia over its aggression against Ukraine.

Russia, West fight for Kazakhstan as Astana plays both sides
On the surface, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s trip to Kazakhstan on Nov. 9 exuded an air of business as usual. The Russian leader was met at dawn on the tarmac of Astana airport by Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev before being greeted by an official guard of honor. The trip coinci…
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ISW: Russia holds offensive initiative.

"Russian forces have regained the theater-wide initiative and will be able to pursue offensive operations when and where they choose as long as they hold the initiative," the ISW said.
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