Moscow (RIA Novosti) July 30, 2007
The Russian Armed Forces have been rather active this summer. So far this year large-scale troop exercises have been held in the Leningrad and North Caucasus Military Districts, as well as in the Russian Far East and in the Northern Fleet. Strategic bombers flew simulated long-range combat missions; 2,500 Russian paratroopers performed group jumps alongside their German counterparts; and another exercise involving elements of the Russian Navy's Northern Fleet and the U.S. Navy spanned the North Atlantic.
Yet in all these operations, there has been one prominent absence: Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov did not attend any of these exercises, including those intended to assess the performance of the generals commanding the new eastern and western strategic sectors.
This is because Serdyukov is busy preparing for the centerpiece of this summer's military exercises. "Peace Mission 2007" will involve all six Shanghai Cooperation Organization countries -- Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan -- 4,000 troops, nearly 100 aircraft, and an unspecified number of logistical support units.
This follows a previous joint exercise, "Peace Mission 2005", which saw large-scale amphibious landings on China's Yellow Sea coast. That exercise caused some controversy, and was seen by some as preparation for a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.
In contrast, Russian commanders have described "Peace Mission 2007" as an anti-terrorist exercise, and have emphasized that it is not aimed at any third country.
As such, says Col. Gen. Vladimir Moltenskoy, deputy commander-in-chief of the Russian Army, it will not involve any heavy military equipment. Instead border guards, elements of the Russian Interior Ministry's Security Force and special police units will take part.
Mechanized-infantry combat vehicles and armored personnel carriers, rather than tanks, will also take part in the exercise.
The dual location exercise, planned for Aug. 9-17, will be held in Urumqi, the capital of China's Xinjiang-Uighur Autonomous Area, and at the range of the Russian Army's 34th Motorized Rifle Division near Chebarkul town, about 50 miles (80 km) west of Chelyabinsk, in Russia's Volga-Urals Military District.
While the bulk of the troops will be Russian and Chinese, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan will contribute one airborne company each. Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan will send an airborne platoon and staff officers, respectively.
The exercise will also involve 2,000 Russian and 1,700 Chinese soldiers, plus an unspecified number of Russian logistics-support units. The Russian Air Force will contribute six Ilyushin Il-76 Candid transport planes, nine Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoot ground-attack jets, 14 Mil Mi-24 Hind helicopter gunships and 18 Mi-8 Hip helicopters.
China will provide six Il-76 aircraft, eight JH-7-A fighter-bombers, 16 JG-9-W and 16 Mi-17 Hip helicopters.
Moreover, each side will contribute 18 122mm and 100mm artillery systems.
The initial phase will be conducted in Urumqi and will involve the heads of SOC general staffs. Under the exercise scenario, they will receive information about a terrorist attack on a small town in the Urals 2,000 kilometers away. The participants will then brief their respective national leaders on the situation, compile plans to contain the conflict and prepare for a military operation against terrorist units.
The generals will face the considerable logistical challenge of deploying 1,700 Chinese troops and their equipment, by rail and air, from Xinjiang to central Russia.
It took SOC military experts six rounds of talks to coordinate all aspects of the upcoming war games. Nonetheless, not all problems have been ironed out.
Kazakhstan, though a member of the SCO and a participant in the exercise, has failed to pass legislation allowing foreign troops to cross its territory. The most direct route from Xinjiang to Chelyabinsk in central Russia would be through Kazakhstan.
Russian troops have been training near Chebarkul since early June; and the first Chinese trains are scheduled to arrive on July 27.
On Aug. 16, the leaders of the SOC countries -- Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Hu Jintao, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov and Uzbek President Islam Karimov -- will meet in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.
The next day, they will watch the final phase of "Peace Mission 2007."
The leaders of the four SCO observer countries, i.e. Iran, Pakistan, India and Mongolia, will not be invited to the exercise. However, they will be represented by their respective military attaches accredited in Moscow; 400 accredited foreign journalists will represent the wider international community.
(Nikita Petrov is a military commentator for the RIA Novosti news agency. This article is reprinted by permission of RIA Novosti. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.)
Source: RIA Novosti
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India Says No Military Buildup After US Nuclear Deal
New Delhi (AFP) Jul 31, 2007
India stressed Friday an operating agreement with the United States on a landmark nuclear deal will not fuel a nuclear weapons build up in the South Asia nation. Top Indian officials said the agreement, announced earlier Friday, dealt exclusively with generating much-needed energy to fuel the nation's fast-growing economy. "We have got a deal... a very good deal," said national security advisor M.K. Narayanan who headed India's delegation to Washington earlier this week for talks to seal the agreement.
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