Vladimir Putin, Nursultan Nazarbayev

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kazakhstan's Nursultan Nazarbayev (L) at the Caspian Summit in Aktau, Kazakhstan in August 2018.
The resignation of long-time Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev on Tuesday was abrupt and unexpected for some. However, analysts say he's been preparing for this for years and have weighed in on the consequences for the region.

Nazarbayev, 78, has resigned after three decades in power. Before announcing it officially, he called Russian president Vladimir Putin, his closest foreign ally, to deliver the news.

The abrupt resignation raised many eyebrows; however, analysts say that it shouldn't have been much of a surprise.

"It's no secret that he methodically prepared his resignation for the last several years," political scientist Vladimir Kornilov says. As part of what Kornilov called "Operation Successor," the Kazakh leader "introduced a set of laws to facilitate his future after the presidency."

"That's why he crafted this life-long position of the head of the Security Council for himself and even limited the vast presidential powers," Kornilov explained. Nazarbayev also announced that he'll remain in charge of the ruling Nur Otan party.

Senate Speaker Kassym-Jomart Tokayev may have been assigned the role of interim-president, but "Nazarbayev will still control the political process in the country from the outside," he pointed out.

The fact that Kazakhstan's first president resigned in favor of his ally and Nur Otan member Tokayev shows that there is"continuity and stability" in the country's politics, professor Aza Migranyan, of the CIS Institute, said.

"A safe and calm transfer of power" in Kazakhstan is paramount for the whole region as it remains "the definitive nation in Central Asia," she said.

Kornilov expressed belief that "by passing power to people closely connected to him, Nazarbayev expects that there'll be no significant changes in foreign and domestic policy, at least in the coming years."

"The relations between Russia and Kazakhstan won't deteriorate because of this move. One can even expect them to somewhat improve," he said.

Professor Migranyan pointed out that "it would be against Kazakhstan's economic interests to spoil relations with Russia"as the trade turnover between the two nations reached $17,6 billion last year.

"Some of Russia's neighbors neglect the economic factor, while building relations with Moscow. I'm sure it won't be the case with Kazakhstan... and it will remain Russia's key ally in Central Asia," she said.