Sunday, August 17, 2014

800 Russian troops reach China for joint drills

In a new boost to strategic ties between the two allies, Russian troops have reached the site of a joint anti-terror drill in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the Chinese military said in a statement on Saturday.

The 800-strong Russian army echelon will now join their counterparts from other members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), including China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Over 7,000 Chinese, Russian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Tajik troops are participating in the drills this year.

Moscow is also sending 12 aircrafts that will cover 1,600 km to touch down in China on Sunday to participate in the upcoming drills from August 24-29 at the Zhurihe training base.

“This week, crew of SU-25SM frontline bombers and of MI-8 AMTSh transport helicopters are to leave for China,” Russia’s eastern military district spokesman Roman Martov said earlier this week.

This is the fifth joint drill for the five members of the China-Russia-led security bloc. China, Russia and four Central Asian nations – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – formed the SCO in 2001 as a regional security bloc to fight terror threats and drug trafficking from neighbouring Afghanistan.

The Peace Mission 2014 will “aim at countering terrorism, separatism and extremism, safeguarding regional peace and stability and improving the militaries’ coordinated ability to fight terrorism,” said China’s Ministry of National Defense.

The military exercises are being held in accordance with the 2014-2015 defense ministry cooperation plan among the five countries.

At a SCO meet earlier this year in Dushanbe, capital of Tajikistan, China urged the group to prevent “external forces” from fomenting revolution in member states.

“External forces are using the social-economic contradictions and problems … to overthrow the authorities and are trying to provoke a new wave of colour revolutions,” said Chinese Public Security Minister Guo Shengkun referring to street protests that have brought down leaders in Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan in the past decade.

Founded in Shanghai in 2001, the SCO has Afghanistan, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan as observers. Belarus, Turkey and Sri Lanka are dialogue partners.

China and Russia have both heavily invested in the resource-rich region. Beijing has issued large loans to local governments in these countries apart from investing billions of dollars in oil and gas.

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