April 18th, 2009 in Breaking News, Troop Movement

Central Asia holds military drill

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Central Asia holds military drill.

Russia, China and three central Asian countries are conducting a joint military exercise in Tajikistan.

The operation involves helicopters, military aircraft and armoured vehicles and up to 1,000 military personnel.

One of the exercises involves Russian and Tajik special forces countering a simulated terrorist attack from Afghanistan, which borders Tajikistan.

Troops from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are also taking part in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) drill.

Some observers have described the security grouping of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan as a potential counterweight to the Western military alliance, Nato.

But the BBC’s Rayhan Demytrie in Dushanbe says SCO members have expressed their support for US and Nato efforts to stabilise Afghanistan.

Moscow and Beijing originally set up a regional body in 1996 to resolve border disputes between China and its central Asian neighbours.

It has since evolved into an alliance seeking cooperation on trade, energy and security issues and when Uzbekistan signed up in 2001 the body was named the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.