It has been a turbulent year in Russian-Kazakh relations. Russia’s oil rich neighbour, which straddles central Asia and eastern Europe, started the year by asking for Russia’s help in restoring stability after protests erupted in its major cities.

But Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has affected their relationship. The president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, has refused to recognise Russia’s annexation of territory in Ukraine, distancing his country from its long-time ally.

Russia, now isolated from the west, needs friends like never before. But repeatedly, we have seen its public figures hurt Russia’s own interests with loose talk that negatively resonates in Kazakhstan.

Two days after Tokayev won reelection in November, Russian political expert Dmitry Drobnitsky went on a popular talk show and described Kazakhstan in the same terms the Russian establishment uses to justify the war in Ukraine: “There, too, Nazi sentiments can begin, as in Ukraine. And we have a border [with Kazakhstan], and there are many Russians there.”

This drew protest from Kazakhstan, and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quick to distance the Russian establishment from the remarks which he said “do not reflect the official line of the Kremlin”. But for much of the Kazakh public, what is said on Channel One reflects what Russia really thinks.

For years now it has seemed as if hardly a few months pass without some public figure in Russia stating that Kazakhstan should be grateful to Moscow for its independence. But this year such pronouncements have only become more frequent.

In August, former Russian president and deputy head of Russian Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, reportedly posted – before deleting – remarks to the effect that Kazakhstan, like Ukraine, was an “artificial state” that had instituted “genocidal policies” towards ethnic Russians living there: “And we do not intend to turn a blind eye to this,” he said. “There will be no order until the Russians get there.” Medvedev was quick to point that his account has been hacked.

A few months earlier, Kazakhstan’s decision not to hold a Victory Parade celebrating the Soviet defeat of Nazism in the second world war drew a scathing response from prominent TV presenter Tigran Keosayan. Keosayan, who is married to the RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan – a key Putin supporter – said on his YouTube channel: “Kazakhs, brothers. What is with the non-gratitude? Look at Ukraine carefully, think seriously. If you think you can continue to be such sly asses and there won’t be any consequences, you are mistaken.”