Kazakhstan has followed a foreign policy of multivector diplomacy since its independence from the former Soviet Union. While multivectorism was a strategy of necessity in its early years, it has evolved to empower Kazakhstan to effectively protect its independence and negotiate its relationship with the great powers on its borders and further afield. After the 2014 Russian seizure of Crimea it is noteworthy that Kazakhstan has maintained positive relations with Russia while asserting its sovereignty and independent foreign policy. In this article we investigate how Kazakhstan has negotiated the rise of China, taking advantage of the economic opportunities it presents. We trace the foreign policy of Kazakhstan from independence forward, examining its relationships with its Great Power neighbours and its role in international organizations and negotiations. We posit that multivectorism is similar to the strategy of omni-enmeshment and complex balancing seen in south-east Asia. Both are effective methods for secondary powers to protect their sovereignty and to coexist with Great Powers without becoming their client states. Kazakhstan's approach to foreign policy is an exemplar for secondary states. This article contributes to the literature on the strategic decision-making of secondary powers and to the theoretical analysis of the foreign policy of Kazakhstan during a critical moment of transition from the long-time rule of Nursultan Nazarbayev to the presidency of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

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Copyright © 2020 The Authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Royal Institute of International Affairs. This article first appeared in International Affairs 96:4 (2020), 975-993.

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Citation Example for Article (Chicago):

Vanderhill, Rachel, Sandra F. Joireman, and Roza Tulepbayeva, “Between the Bear and the Dragon: Multivectorism in Kazakhstan as a Model Strategy for Secondary Powers." International Affairs 96, no. 4 (July 2020): 975-993.