Russia Current Affairs
Russia is going to conduct Vostok-2018 (East-2018) military exercise in central and eastern Russian military districts from September 11 to 15, 2018. It will be biggest war games ever conducted by Russia since Zapad-81 (West-81) exercise conducted by erstwhile Soviet Union in 1981 which had seen involvement about 100,000 to 150,000 troops.
Vostok-2018 will involve participation of units from Russian Army, Air Force and Navy. More than 300,000 troops, 36,000 tanks, armoured personnel carriers, armoured infantry vehicles, over 1,000 military aircraft, two naval fleets and all its airborne units will participate in this military exercise. China and Mongolia will also participate in Vostok 2018.
Vostok-2018 exercise is being conducted in response to aggressive and unfriendly attitudes towards Russia by NATO and West countries. Tensions between Moscow and NATO had been running high since Russian annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in early 2014 and Russia backed uprising in eastern Ukraine, alleged meddling in US presidential elections of 2016 and nerve agent attack on ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in UK in March 2018, which have resulted in sharp escalations. NATO has also stepped up deployment of forces in East Europe and Russia has increased its naval presence in Mediterranean Sea off Syria. Moreover, involvement of China will be also significant and also improve Chinese-Russian military relations, as well as to prevent Chinese concern about military exercises near their border.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Peace Mission 2018 was held in Chebarkul, Russia. Military contingents of the all eight SCO member nations (China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, India and Pakistan) participated in this exercise. The exercise was aimed at enhancing cooperation between member states to deal with growing threat of terrorism and extremism. It was for first time since independence, India and Pakistan simultaneously took part military exercise, though armies of two rival neighbouring countries had earlier worked together in United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions.
SCO Peace Mission 2018
The exercise provided opportunity to armed forces of SCO nations to train in counter terrorism operations in urban scenario in multinational and joint environment The scope of exercise included professional interaction, mutual understanding of drills and procedures, establishment of joint command and control structures and elimination of terrorist threat in urban counter terrorist scenario. It also helped to strengthen mutual confidence, interoperability and enable sharing of best practices among armed forces of the SCO nations.
Around 3,000 soldiers from eight SCO member countries took part in the exercise. Russian Army was had major participation with 1700 personnel followed by China with 700, India with 200 personnel (167 Indian Army personnel including four women officers and 33 personnel from Indian Air Force). Pakistan contingent comprised of 110 members
Note: The SCO Peace Mission Exercise takes place every two years. The previous editions of this exercise were mainly limited to Central Asian nations. But due to the entry of India and Pakistan (in June 2017), SCO’s counter-terrorism mission now has been expanded to South Asia.
Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)
SCO is political and security grouping of eight countries headquartered in Beijing, China. It was founded in 2001. The full members of SCO are China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, India and Pakistan. They represent over 40% of humanity and nearly 20% of the global GDP. Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia have observer status at present.
SCO is successor of grouping called Shanghai Five, founded by China in 1996. It comprised Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. In 2001 Uzbekistan was invited to join it and SCO was officially born. After Astana Summit Declaration in 2005, SCO has emerged as regional security organization.
SCO’s main objective is military cooperation between the members. It also works towards intelligence-sharing, counter-terrorism operations in Central Asia. It is primarily centred on its member nations’ Central Asian security-related concerns, often describing main threats it confronts as being terrorism, separatism and extremism. The role of China as well as strategic importance of SCO has increased over period of decade and now address problems like terrorism, separatism and militancy in the region.