This nation gets almost no media coverage despite its profound geopolitical significance. Kazakhstan is a former Soviet republic that is the 18th (as of 2014) largest producer of oil in the world. Western oil companies--primarily Chevron--operate the largest portions of their nationally-owned hydrocarbon assets with some presence from Rosneft that essentially takes a cut off the top. (The overwhelming majority of the technical expertise comes from Kazakh and Western employees.) However, Kazakhstan's leadership still maintains a very noticeable loyalty toward Moscow and the Duginesque "Eurasian Union" geopolitical vision. This makes it anyone's guess as to which way Kazakhstan will lean as tensions with the Former Soviet sphere of influence continue to mount with the West.
Kazakhs themselves are nominally Muslim, but they are absolutely nothing like Middle Eastern Muslims. They are closer to a thuggish Russian subculture with some lip service given to Muslim and Persian cultural elements--sort of comparable to a third-generation Mexican in the U.S. that can't speak a word of Spanish but still maintains a few cultural ties to Mexico. Some of the most intelligent people I've ever met have been Kazakh; in engineering school, I competed with a Kazakh girl for perfect scores on physics and calculus exams. That being said, some of the most notorious cheaters in the program were also Kazakh; only a small number of them would legitimately learn the material.
It's a pretty weird country that doesn't really seem to fit cleanly into any major bloc. They speak Russian with mostly neutral accents, but look like Asians, which alienates them from a Slavic identity; Russians call them "chjornozhopy." They are Muslim, but basically "only during Ramadan," and they tend to care less about their religion than most Turks. And they are far more Western than the Chinese or other East Asian nations. It'll be interesting to see how they develop.