Interview with Aleksandr Lukin

Aleksandr Lukin, the Director of the East Asia and Shanghai Co-operation Organisation Research Center of the Moscow State University of Foreign Relations, spoke to RT on the joint SCO anti-terrorist military exercises taking place in Russia.

Russia Today: As we know the members of Shanghai Co-operation Organisation have already held some military exercises before and many said it was a certain show of force to the United States and to NATO countries. What is your opinion: should the U.S. and NATO countries be concerned about such exercises?

Aleksandr Lukin: I do not think they should be concerned at all. First of all, Russia had military exercises with many countries, including NATOand the U.S. So the fact of having military exercises does not mean that this is a creation of a military alliance. The Shanghai Co-operation Organisation is not a military alliance, Russia and China have no military alliance. The main goal of these exercises is fighting international terrorism and the plot of the scenario of the exercises, this time on the Russian territory in Chelyabinsk region, is only fighting terrorism and nothing else. According to the scenario, a group of so-called terrorists would occupy a village and then joint forces will try to deal with this problem. So, as you have said, the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation already had such exercises on the territories of several other member states. So I do not think there should be any worries about it.

RT: Let’s get back to the current exercises in the Urals. As we know most of the troops and arms are  provided by China and Russia. Who is to benefit from these exercises?

A.L.: Every country would benefit and I think the whole world would benefit because Russia, China and other countries of this region are helping each other and co-operate with the West and the U.S. as a part of a broader anti-terrorist coalition. So this is, I would say, an additional, not an anti-Western, but an additional effort in learning how to fight terrorism. So I think that everyone would benefit from that, including the West.

RT: Let’s turn to China. As we know, this is probably the first time China has sent such a number of troops to the  Urals, so far from China. What is your opinion, is this a certain show of force? What is the aim of China here?

A.L.: Well, this is true that this is the first time a big number of Chinese troops go abroad. Also some Chinese troops also took part in some exercises in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, for example, also as a part of a SCO military co-operation programme. But I would not say it is a show of force. The main line of Chinese policy, the general line, is independent foreign policy, but Beijing also tries very hard to create a peaceful international environment on its borders to promote internal economic development. Since the Central Asian region is seen from Beijing as kind of problematic, we can see an effort to stabilize the situation there, to fight terrorism and, of course, there is no danger for other countries. I think that Russia is also interested in stabilizing the situation in  Central Asia because, you know, such extremist movements like Taliban or Al Qaeda -  they threaten not only Chinese territory, Xinjiang region, for example, but also sub-Russian regions, as we all know. So on this point Russian and Chinese interests coincide.