Russia’s likely new head of state after next year’s presidential elections accused Western nations of hypocrisy for backing revolutions in North African countries that previously enjoyed their strong support. “It really is just like you said -- these are arrogant world powers,” Putin said in response to remarks from Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi made during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Saint Petersburg. “They also supported the old North African regimes,” news agencies quoted Putin as saying in a clear reference to European powers and the United States.
“But what is interesting, they also supported the North African revolutions as well, the ones that overthrew the old regimes.” Russia strongly opposed NATO’s air campaign in Libya and has warned the West against acting tough towards its close Soviet-era ally Syria.
The 10-year-old SCO joins Russia and China with the four ex-Soviet states of Central Asian in a loose security union that Moscow hopes to develop into a more powerful force rivaling the Brussels-based NATO bloc. Iran is one of three nations along with Pakistan and India to have applied to join the organization. “Russia would welcome the positive review of applications to join our organization in one form or another from any interested nation,” Putin was quoted as saying.
The vast show of firepower... involved some 6,000 personnel from the six countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO): China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan....
The exercises come after Thursday's summit where SCO leaders underlined their common opposition to perceived US hegemony. The summit was held in the former Soviet state of Kyrgyzstan, with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad observing.
The exercises - coordinated from separate command centers in Russia and China - featured movement of Chinese forces across Russian rail lines, joint special forces activities, and fly-overs by the Chinese Air Force over Russian airspace. The sophisticated operations concretely formalized the military alliance between China and Russia designed to prevent further penetration into Central Asia by the United States. Nothing could convey this objective more clearly than the presence of the Iranian President at the summit.
The capability to transfer large-scale military contingents across vast distances is essential should Moscow and Beijing decide on joint military action in the event of a possible American military operation against Iran spilling over into the Caspian and Central Asian regions.