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A burnt bus is seen by the Almaty mayor's office. Photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images

A Russia-led military alliance said Thursday it was sending forces to Kazakhstan to help quell the deadly unrest rocking the Central Asian country.

The big picture: Dozens of people, including protesters and police officers, have been killed in more than four days of unrest over what started as outrage over fuel price hikes and has since escalated into some of the worst street violence in Kazakhstan since the former Soviet country's independence in 1991, AP reports.

  • The Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization is sending peacekeeping forces to the country at the request of Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, according to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, the current chair of the alliance.
  • It's unclear how many troops the alliance is sending and how long they will stay in the country.

Between the lines: "Russia is notorious for sending in troops under the guise of peacekeeping missions that go on to establish a permanent presence in the host countries," the New York Times notes.

  • Due to an internet blackout and tight government controls, it's difficult to verify the extent of the violence.
Protesters rally in Almaty on Jan. 5. Photo: Abduaziz Madyarov/AFP via Getty Images

Driving the news: The protests started peacefully in the town of Zhanaozen on Sunday after the government nearly doubled the price of liquefied petroleum gas, which is widely used to fuel vehicles in the country, per the Times.

  • By Tuesday, when the government announced it would rescind the price hike, the protests in the resource-rich country had spread and broadened into anger over inequality, government representation, corruption and other issues.
  • On Wednesday, Tokayev's government had announced its resignation, per AP. The unrest, however, continued, with security forces firing water cannons, tear gas and concussion grenades on protesters, some of whom stormed government and public buildings, businesses and an airport. The mayor's office and other buildings in the major city of Almaty were set ablaze, per Reuters.
  • Tokayev, who has vowed a harsh crackdown on the unrest and called protesters "a band of international terrorists," declared a two-week, nationwide state of emergency that includes a curfew and other restrictions, the Times reports.
Security forces in Almaty. Photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images

What they're saying: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a call with Kazakh Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi on Thursday "reiterated the United States’ full support for Kazakhstan’s constitutional institutions and media freedom and advocated for a peaceful, rights-respecting resolution to the crisis," according to spokesperson Ned Price.

  • "The Secretary also raised the priority of promoting stability in Europe, including support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in response to Russian aggression," Price added.

Go deeper

Jan 14, 2022 - World

U.S. accuses Russia of preparing "false flag" operation to attack Ukraine

Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

The U.S. claims to have information indicating that Russia has "already prepositioned a group of operatives to conduct a false-flag operation in eastern Ukraine," laying the groundwork for a potential pretext to invade, according to a U.S. official.

Why it matters: Diplomatic talks between the U.S., its European allies and Russia failed to produce a breakthrough this week, raising fears that Moscow will invade Ukraine and unleash a devastating new war.

In photos: 2021's devastating climate disasters

Firefighters work on a wildfire in the Sequoia National Forest near Johnsondale, Calif., in September 2021. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Climate disasters in 2021 affected millions of lives, caused billions of dollars in economic loss across the world and brought into stark reality the perils of higher temperatures and climate change in general.

The big picture: Early data has ranked 2021 as the sixth warmest year on record. Climatologists have warned that increased surface temperatures make floods, droughts, heat and cold waves, wildfires and tropical storms and hurricanes more common and intense.

The hard math behind America's labor shortage

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, the pandemic has created unusual temporary labor market dynamics. But in the bigger picture, the 2010s were a golden age for companies seeking cheap labor. The 2020s are not.

The big picture: In the 2010s, the massive millennial generation was entering the workforce, the massive baby bo0m generation was still hard at work, and there was a multi-year hangover from the deep recession caused by the global financial crisis.