After earlier in the week announcing that its troop draw down from neighboring Kazakhstan will commence "within two days," the Russian government has confirmed Thursday that its forces have initiated an exit of some 2,000-3,000 peacekeeping forces from the country.
"A Russia-led military bloc began pulling its troops out of Kazakhstan on Thursday after a week-long deployment during the worst bout of unrest in the Central Asian nation's post-Soviet history," Reuters confirmed. Russia's defense ministry at the same time informed President Putin that all Russian soldiers are expected to be out by Jan.19. "They have to return home," Putin said during a meeting on the Kazakhstan crisis aired on national TV. "They’ve accomplished their task."
After dozens of security forces were reported killed and wounded, with hundreds of police injuries also reported, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev had dubbed efforts to reign in last week's raging protests and rioting which was triggered by a fuel price hike as "counter-terrorism".