Kazakhstan Draws on Lessons From War in Ukraine

Russian and Kazakh military to discuss security in Central Asia

“Units of special operations forces and the National Guard liberated the Kapchagai hydroelectric power station, which was captured by a mock enemy.”

Kazakhstan has always been concerned that its northern regions could be annexed by Russia.[i] As a result, Kazakhstan’s armed forces carried out an air defense exercise in February 2023 and a command-staff exercise in early September 2023 that appeared to draw on lessons from the war in Ukraine, even if it was not explicitly stated.[ii] According to the accompanying excerpted article from the Kazakhstan-based Russian-language online newspaper Informburo, the command-staff exercise, Batyl Toytarys – 2023 (Brave Resistance – 2023) involved brigade tactical groups, air support, and special forces in scenarios that included defending against a river crossing and recapturing a hydroelectric power station from an enemy force. The article notes that the exercise took place in four different regions in the country, two of which are near the Kazakhstan-Russia border. It also notes that Kazakhstan’s Navy took part in the exercise by securing facilities in the Caspian Sea. Kazakhstani officials did not release any further information on the conditional enemy for the exercise, but it appears to be working through a scenario of dealing with a conventional enemy who would target multiple regions of the country on a large scale.


Aygerim Ummat, “Токаеву показали, как проходят военные учения ‘Батыл тойтарыс – 2023’ (Tokayev was shown how the armed forces carried out the exercise ‘Batyl toytarys – 2023’),” Informburo (Russian-language online newspaper in Kazakhstan), 5 September 2023. https://informburo.kz/novosti/tokaevu-pokazali-kak-proxodyat-voennye-uceniya-batyl-toitarys-2023

…the Head of State Kassym-Jomart Tokayev visited the strategic command and staff military exercises “Batyl Toytarys – 2023″…

Brigade tactical groups, with the support of aviation, as well as in cooperation with units of ground forces and special operations forces, worked out tactical actions to capture the designated enemy line on the opposite bank while overcoming a water barrier.

Units of special operations forces and the National Guard liberated the Kapchagai hydroelectric power station, which was captured by a mock enemy. The units of the Ministry of Emergency Situations worked to alleviate the consequences of the man-made disaster and worked out measures to provide humanitarian assistance to the population.

According to a single concept and plan, which was developed by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kazakhstan, a strategic regrouping of troops was carried out in the areas where the exercises will be held…the Navy, with the support of aviation and special operations forces, ensured the security of economic facilities in the Caspian Sea. The corresponding joint combat training tasks were carried out at the training grounds of Almaty, Karaganda, North Kazakhstan, and Abay regions.


[i] For more information on Kazakhstan’s exercise and the cancelled parade, see: Matthew Stein “Kazakhstan Draws Lessons From the Russia-Ukraine War,” OE Watch 03-2023. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-articles-2-singular-format/437097

[ii] Kazakhstani public perceptions of Russia are trending negative. A recent public survey revealed that 30 percent of the Kazakhstani population had lost its positive perception of Russia following the invasion of Ukraine, while half of those questioned did not change their perception of Russia. Conversely, 5 percent of those surveyed had a better perception of Russia. For more detail see: “Треть казахстанцев стала хуже относиться к России после начала ее вторжения в Украину (A third of Kazakhstanis have a worse attitude toward Russia after the start of its invasion of Ukraine),” Vlast, 18 May 2023. https://vlast.kz/novosti/55152-tret-kazahstancev-stala-huze-otnositsa-k-rossii-posle-nacala-ee-vtorzenia-v-ukrainu.html

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