It’s already been dubbed the “anti-NATO”, and now Russia, China and four former Soviet states are co-operating militarily along the lines of the Western alliance. Russia’s President Putin invited his colleagues from the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation to watch their troops practising counter-terrorism measures.
The Shanghai group comprises Russia, China and four former Soviet Central Asian states. The leaders left their meeting in Kirgyzstan for southern Russia, where the exercises are taking place. The Russian general commanding the war games said it would help the Shanghai group fight both internal and international terrorists.
Each member already has problems with separatist Muslim groups. Russia has fought two wars against Muslims in Chechnya, China faces rebellious Muslim Uighurs in its most-westerly province, and Uzbekistan said it too has problems with Muslim militants.
The Shanghai Co-operation Organisation was formed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. It wants closer economic and military ties between its Central Asian members, whose rich oil and gas reserves are much coveted by energy-hungry Western countries.