Joint Exercises for Asian Alliance
Thousands of Russian and Chinese soldiers amassed for military exercises in early August. The exercises, organized by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (sco), took place in Russia’s Volga-Urals military district, and are regarded by some as the symbolic emergence of a military bloc that could eventually rival nato.
The 10-day operation—which began August 7 with Russian and Chinese fighter, gun-ship, helicopter and air-transport maneuvers—involved about 6,500 troops and 500 combat vehicles. It was the sco’s largest exercise in its six-year history and the first military exercises to include all six members of the sco: Russia, China, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
Named “Peace Mission 2007,” the exercises were conducted under the auspices of anti-terrorism exercises.
According to Times Online, the maneuvers are regarded as a significant extension of the sco’s capabilities (August 6). The organization, which was originally founded in 2001 as a non-military partnership for the purpose of fighting drugs, weapons smuggling, terrorism and separatism, is now regarded by some as a potential challenger to nato.
“This is the first time all six members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization are taking part in a military exercise together,” Qian Lihua, deputy director of the Foreign Affairs Office of China’s Ministry of Defense, said. “It’s also a first for the People’s Liberation Army to send so many soldiers and weapons to such a remote place” (China Central Television, July 25). China sent many of its units via air transport, with troops and equipment also being transported by rail: a 6,000-mile trip one way.
This is not the first time Russian and Chinese forces have gathered to conduct joint military exercises. Past missions include “Peace Mission 2005,” a geopolitical saber-rattling event designed to intimidate Taiwan. That mission involved a simulated large-scale amphibious assault on the Yellow Sea coastline.
The latest military exercises came as Russian leaders proposed combining the burgeoning power of the sco with the Collective Security Treaty Organization (csto), which represents most of the former Soviet Union. The previous week, the csto secretary general called for the alliance to hold joint military exercises with the sco.
Watch for Asian nations, whether through the sco or another alliance, to form a powerful bloc to rival nato and, eventually, European Union forces. For more, request our free booklet Russia and China in Prophecy.