FACTBOX: Background on Russia-Kazakhstan relations

  TASS-FACTBOX:  Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Astana on an official visit to Kazakhstan, where he will hold talks with Kazakh...


TASS-FACTBOX:  Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Astana on an official visit to Kazakhstan, where he will hold talks with Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

The heads of state plan to discuss key issues in the bilateral relationship and the prospects for cooperation within the framework of Eurasia-focused integrative bodies, as well as current regional and international challenges.

Treaty base and cooperation in integrative bodies

Diplomatic relations between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Kazakhstan were established on October 22, 1992. To date, the countries have concluded more than 350 separate treaties and agreements covering various fields.

The fundamental bilateral Russian-Kazakh documents are the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Aid of May 25, 1992; the Declaration of Eternal Friendship and Alliance, Oriented Toward the 21st Century of July 6, 1998; and the Treaty on Good-Neighborliness and Alliance in the 21st Century signed on November 11, 2013 (which took effect on December 22, 2014).

In addition to bilateral cooperation, the countries also interact within the framework of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). In 2018, Russia and Kazakhstan were among the five Caspian littoral states that signed the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea.


According to the Russian Federal Customs Service, Kazakhstan accounts for 3.3% of Russia’s total foreign trade turnover.

On November 8, 2023, Putin said in an interview with Kazakhstanskaya Pravda that, by the end of 2022, trade turnover between the countries increased by 10.2% and reached a record $28.2 bln. In January-August 2023, according to the Russian president, Russian-Kazakh trade turnover amounted to $18.9 bln, representing a 7.6% year-on-year increase compared to the same period in 2022.

In turn, the Kazakh Ministry of Trade and Integration reported that the volume of bilateral trade for January-August 2023 exceeded $17 bln, with exports from Kazakhstan to Russia during this period rising by 21.4% to $6.4 bln, and imports to Kazakhstan from Russia declining by 8.2% ($10.6 bln).

The main items within the bilateral trade turnover are industrial equipment; mineral, metals and chemical products; and foodstuffs and agricultural raw materials.

Joint ventures and investments

Currently, Russia and Kazakhstan have more than 11,000 joint ventures in various sectors of the economy. The countries are implementing joint projects in the automotive industry, aircraft construction, deep oil refining, and agribusiness processing industries. Nearly all major Russian companies have a presence in Kazakhstan, including Rosatom, Gazprom, Lukoil, Rusal, Kamaz, Sberbank, Beeline and EuroChem, among others.

The volume of direct Russian investment in the economy of Kazakhstan over the past 15 years is estimated at $17 bln, while the volume of Kazakh investment in Russia is about $4.5 bln.

On September 25, 2023, at the plenary session of the Innoprom international industrial exhibition, Kazakh Prime Minister Alihan Smaiylov said that 30 joint projects have already been implemented in Kazakhstan, and 40 more projects worth over $16 bln are in progress.

Space cooperation

Russia and Kazakhstan share the Baikonur spaceport (founded in 1955, in operation since 1957), located in the Kyzylorda Region in south central Kazakhstan. After the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, the spaceport became the property of independent Kazakhstan. Since 1994, the spaceport has been leased by Russia (until 2050), for an annual lease payment of $115 mln. Currently, Russian Proton-M, Soyuz-2.1a and Soyuz-2.1b carrier rockets are launched from the spaceport. In addition, at present the Soyuz MS manned spacecraft with expedition crews headed to the International Space Station (ISS) can be launched only from Baikonur.

As part of expanding cooperation on Baikonur, Russia and Kazakhstan are working on the Bayterek project, which envisions the creation of a new space rocket complex at the spaceport.

A bilateral intergovernmental agreement on the Bayterek launch complex was signed in Moscow on December 22, 2004. This facility is scheduled to launch the Russian Soyuz-5 (Irtysh) with automatic spacecraft; its first launch from Baikonur is scheduled for December 2025.

In addition, Russia has built three KazSat communications satellites for Kazakhstan. The first such satellite was launched in 2006 from Baikonur by a Russian Proton-K carrier rocket, but failed in 2008. The next two were launched into Earth orbit using Proton-M rockets in 2011 and 2014. Both satellites are still operational.

On September 2-12, 2015, the first Kazakh cosmonaut, Aydyn Aimbetov, carried out a space flight. He worked on the ISS as part of the crew of the 18th visiting expedition. Aimbetov was transported to the orbital station on the Russian Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft and returned to Earth on the Soyuz TMA-16M. Under the relevant contract, Kazakhstan paid Russia 1.1 bln rubles (about $20 mln) for that flight.

On February 10, 2022, Russian state aerospace corporation Roscosmos and Kazakhstan's Ministry of Digital Development, Innovations and Aerospace Industry signed a memorandum of understanding and cooperation on the exchange of data from Earth-orbiting spacecraft equipped with remote sensors.

Oil and gas cooperation

The two countries have a long-term agreement dated June 7, 2002 for the transit of Kazakh oil to world markets through Russia. The main volume of oil in transit from Kazakhstan's fields is carried through the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC)’s oil pipelines (throughput of 30-60 mln tons per year) to the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiysk and the Atyrau-Samara oil pipeline (throughput of about 15 mln tons per year). Oil is transported from Samara via the Transneft pipeline systems to Novorossiysk for further export. The CPC’s main shareholders are the Russian state-owned company Transneft (24%), Kazakhstan's national company KazMunayGas (19%), and subsidiaries of US oil major Chevron (15%) and Russian oil major Lukoil (12.5%).

Lukoil has been operating in Kazakhstan since 1995. It is an investor in projects at the Tengiz, Karachaganak, Khvalynskoye and Tsentralnoye fields, under the CPC, as well as in the Zhenis and Al-Farabi projects (previously called I-P-2) in Kazakhstan’s sector of the Caspian Sea. In addition, Lukoil serves as a strategic partner in projects for developing the Kalamkas Sea and Khazar offshore fields.

KazRosGas, a joint venture between Gazprom and KazMunayGas, has been operating since 2002. It processes, transports and sells Kazakh gas in both domestic and foreign markets. Gazprom is involved in projects to develop Kazakhstan's Tsentralnoye (jointly with Lukoil and KazMunayGas) and Imashevskoye fields.

In December 2016, Gazprom Export and Kazakhstan's Global Gas Regazification, a member of the Global Gas Group, signed a contract for the supply of low-tonnage liquefied natural gas by road from Russia to Kazakhstan. The first batch of Russian LNG produced by Gazprom Transgaz Ekaterinburg was shipped to Kazakhstan in January 2017.

In August 2022, Kazakh Energy Minister Bolat Aqsolaqov stated that Kazakh national company QazaqGaz was negotiating with Gazprom on the terms for the potential gasification of northern and eastern regions of Kazakhstan. Currently, the parties are working on various options to fine tune the relevant gas transportation infrastructure.

On October 7, 2023, in Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev attended a joint ceremony for inaugurating Russian gas supplies to Uzbekistan via transit through Kazakhstan; some fuel can also be supplied to Kazakhstan if necessary.

On November 1, 2023, on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Gas Forum, Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller and Kazakh First Deputy Prime Minister Roman Sklyar signed a strategic cooperation agreement envisaging gas exploration, production, processing, supply and transportation.

Nuclear energy

Rosatom and Kazatomprom have established several joint ventures for uranium mining and enrichment, including the international center in Angarsk in Russia’s Irkutsk Region, as well as the Akbastau, Budenovskoye, Karatau and Zarechnoye projects and the South Mining and Chemical Company in Kazakhstan’s Turkistan Region. Until 2020, the countries also jointly owned a uranium enrichment center at the Ural Electrochemical Combine (part of Rosatom's fuel company TVEL in Novouralsk, Sverdlovsk Region). In March 2020, TVEL bought 49% of the center's shares from the Kazakh partner. Kazatomprom retained one share of the joint venture, enabling it to use the Ural Combine’s services if necessary.

In 2019, Putin at a meeting with Tokayev suggested expanding cooperation between the two countries in the energy sector and building a nuclear power plant in Kazakhstan using Russian technology. The Kazakh authorities are currently considering proposals from several potential partners for the construction of a nuclear power plant in the country, including Rosatom. The final decision will be made after a national referendum is held on the issue.

Interregional cooperation

In order to strengthen direct ties between regions, Russia and Kazakhstan have been organizing annual forums of interregional cooperation since 2003. The first meeting in this format was held in 2003 in Omsk, with a total of 18 forums held. Over the years, such forums have discussed cross-border and Caspian Sea cooperation, cooperation in the fuel and energy sector, transportation, customs, ecology, border security, and combating drug trafficking and illegal migration, among other issues.

Currently, 76 of Russia’s 89 constituent regions maintain trade and economic ties with all 14 regions of Kazakhstan. In general, there are about 300 agreements between Kazakhstan and Russian constituent regions. Interregional cooperation accounts for 70% of bilateral trade, and border regions account for about 40%. Kazakhstan is one of the leading trade partners for such Russian regions as the Republic of Tatarstan, the Orenburg, Sverdlovsk and Chelyabinsk regions, the federal cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg, and other regions.

Humanitarian cooperation

Relations between Kazakhstan and Russia in the cultural and humanitarian sphere are regulated by an agreement dated April 14, 1993 between the two countries’ respective ministries of culture. Russia’s Bashkiria, Tatarstan, Altai, Omsk and Sverdlovsk regions, and the cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg, maintain humanitarian contacts with Kazakhstan on a permanent basis.

Russia’s agency for international humanitarian cooperation operates a representative office in Astana. Scientific conferences, seminars, concerts, exhibitions and other events organized by Russian scientists and cultural figures are organized in Kazakhstan with its assistance. In addition, museums, theaters, libraries of Russia and Kazakhstan actively cooperate in various areas (cultural exchanges, exhibitions, tours, etc.).

According to intergovernmental agreements, since 2003 Russia has provided educational grants for Kazakh citizens to study at Russian universities. According to the Russian Ministry of Science and Higher Education, more than 60,000 Kazakh students are currently enrolled at Russian higher educational institutions. Various Kazakh cities host branches of several Russian universities, including Lomonosov Moscow State University (Astana), Chelyabinsk State University (Kostanay), Plekhanov Russian University of Economics (Oskemen), Moscow Aviation Institute (Baikonur), and the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions and the Academy of Labor and Social Relations (both in Almaty). In September 2022, branches of National Research Nuclear University MEPhI (Almaty) and Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas (Atyrau) were opened. In 2024, plans call for opening a branch of the Mendeleev University of Chemical Technology in Kazakhstan on the basis of the M.H. Dulati Taraz Regional University.

In addition, under the existing bilateral agreements, joint scientific and educational projects, training and exchange of students, professional development and scientific internships of teachers are being carried out.

-News Feed




Local Glob: FACTBOX: Background on Russia-Kazakhstan relations
FACTBOX: Background on Russia-Kazakhstan relations
Local Glob
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