Kazakhstan gets cold feet about Russia-led bloc, RIA reports

(Reuters) - Russia's traditional ally Kazakhstan has lost its enthusiasm with regard to Moscow-led projects of a post-Soviet economic union and a broader Eurasian partnership, RIA quoted a senior Russian diplomat as saying on Monday.

Kazakhstan, the second-biggest economy in the former Soviet Union, has distanced itself from Russia since the invasion of Ukraine. Astana has called for peace and refused to recognise referendums through which Russia annexed parts of Ukraine.

Comments by Kirill Barskiy, Russia's senior representative at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation body, suggest Moscow is concerned with such moves that might undermine its efforts to establish an anti-Western coalition in Asia.

"We have issues within our Union: Kazakhstan has lately begun putting the brakes on its participation in the Eurasian Economic Union and the Greater Eurasia (project), this is a very alarming sign," Barskiy told a foreign policy conference held by Russia's upper house of parliament.

Barskiy said Russia needed to address the issue to figure out what Kazakhstan needs and bring it into the fold.

Kazakhstan has never announced plans to slow down work within Russia-led blocs, but Astana has said it would comply with Western sanctions introduced against Moscow over Ukraine.

It also snubbed Moscow's demand to immediately expel Ukraine's ambassador over his comments about killing Russians, although the Kazakh side asked Kyiv to replace the diplomat.

At the same time, Kazakh exports to Russia of certain goods such as mobile phones have surged this year as foreign businesses stopped selling them directly to Russians.

(Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Sandra Maler)