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Military exercise strengthens anti-terrorism fight

Joint anti-terrorism exercises between Russia, China and four central Asian countries have taken place in Russia's Urals. The military maneuvers between members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation unite the six member-countries for the first time in

Russia's President Vladimir Putin and leaders from China and Central Asian countries have visited the “Peace Mission 2007” military exercises.

Speaking in Bishkek, Mr Putin offered the SCO member-states to hold regular joint military maneuvers in the future.

It is the first time the exercises are being held by the six members of the SCO simultaneously. The interchange of experience will be very useful for further co-operation,

Russian Maj. General Oleg Kolyada

More than 6,000 servicemen from member-states are involved in the war games. The largest detachments were assigned by Russia and China, smaller detachments – from several Central Asian states including Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Military exercises
Military exercises

The final part of the maneuvers was marked with a liberation of a small town that was taken by a group of militants. The aim is to free the town with the lowest number of casualties possible. Both on the land and from the air the Russian and Chinese military approach the town.

The maneuvers are only a practice for possible real anti-terror operations in the future.

“We have joined agenda of every member of the SCO, especially with China. And these exercises make stress on what unites us, because there are many other points that don't unite us at all, starting from energy export or import up to political dialogue with the U.S. That's why it is very interesting to see how Russia and China managed to put all together effectively cutting the things which are irrelevant for these exercises and putting only what is relevant,” said Ruslan Pukhov, an analyst from the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies.

“There is a certain intrigue behind these exercises because, as far as the political dialogue concerned, Russia is for inviting new members and China is quite satisfied with the number of the members they [the SCO] have. They don't want the enlargement. That's why probably in the future we will see which point of view will prevail. If it is Russia's then we will see more servicemen from different countries, if it is the same scope than it means that we accepted the Chinese vision of the SCO,” he noted.

“And I think that's really the big catch right here and I absolutely agree. Expansion would really weaken it. It'd delude it. In many ways something like NATO is going through. And NATO is being deluded,” added Peter Lavelle, RT political commentator.

Meantime, Dmitry Oreshkin, a Russian political analyst, says these large-scale military exercises are more than just terrorism prevention measures.

“The military exercises in Chelyabinsk are called anti-terrorist but it really is more serious than that. Because several hundred pieces of military equipment are involved as well as different kinds of troops. It's quite obvious that it's not the way you fight with terrorists – Special Security Services deal with them. Even though the main enemies here are abstract terrorists, what we see is a military interaction between two major powers in the region,” he says.