Well, no one can be surprised after the last seven years that Putin sees the way to economic power for mother Russia is to, once again, become the economic and military rival of the United States and NATO. Russia has been angry since the US support of Georgian independence amongst other former republics, as well as the offer for these nations to join NATO.
This offer includes protection from possible forceful re-integration into Mother Russia via outside arms or internal Russian supported political coup. But, more importantly, it was a bid to increase influence in an area rich with oil and natural gas in order to diversify US supply.
To offset that and what Russia sees as meddling in the affairs of its client nations, regional resources and economic viability, Russia created the SCO in 2001 along with China and several other nations:
Founded in 2001, the SCO, which includes the four central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyztan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as well as China and Russia, is rapidly gaining a reputation as an anti-Western organisation.
That image seems to be one that Mr Putin is happy to cultivate. Analysts say that the Russian president believes the organisation is emerging as a bloc that is rapidly becoming powerful enough to stand up to the West.
Russia's most pro-government newspapers, often used by the Kremlin as propaganda vehicles, yesterday proclaimed the arrival of an "anti-Nato" alliance and a "Warsaw Pact 2".
Now, another reason why calls from the right to bomb Iran and calls from the left to invade Pakistan are equally inept without some sort of plan to dissuade interference from certain actors:
Yet the SCO has wider ambitions. Pakistan, India and Mongolia all want to join - as does Iran, whose president, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, attended the summit as guest of honour, a title bound to rile Washington. Iranian membership of the SCO would pose an enormous headache for the United States. Like Nato, its treaty states that an attack on one member is regarded as an attack on all, raising the prospect that the United States could find itself aligned against both Russia and China if it invaded Iran.
Something that should have been apparent without the SCO since China and Iran have very important Natural Gas and Oil contracts. China might protest mildly about Iraq, but it would certainly have a much bigger issue if Iran was invaded and the 20% of its energy resources were cut off. This is also the reason that Iran has felt safe in providing training, money, weapons and fighters for the Shia in Iraq. They fear no retribution, not just because the American congress is weak or our forces overstretched, but because they have the Russian Bear and the Chinese Yin behind them.
This is why we have chosen to combat Iran through economic warfare. Russia knows exactly what is happening because it has been there before. Iran is one of its essential "neighbors" in keeping the Caspian Sea and its energy resources (oil and gas) free and clear for exploitation by Russia and its compatriot states in the Caucuses.
This year, Russia, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan signed a deal to expand a Soviet scheme for delivering gas from the Caspian region. This could challenge Western plans to open new supplies, independent of Russia, by routing exports across the Caspian Sea. Nursultan Nazarbayev, the Kazakh President, said that the group “should create an ‘Energy Club’, which . . . could become one of the key elements of Asian energy strategy”;
It has many cooperative pipelines with these organizations through which it derives a good portion of its yearly revenue. Russia and Kazahkstan are investing heavily in a pipeline that will stretch from Russia to China through Kazahkstan and allow direct delivery of oil to energy hungry China.
The report continues that China would probably block Iran from joining the organization since it does not want to anger the US and create a financial and political situation. India is very likely to remain an observer as well since it is working on becoming its own power in the region and has recently signed a deal with the United States for nuclear technology.
Additionally, this issue with growing Russian cultivation of Iran (where the Russian's have continued to work on the Iranian Bushehr Nuclear Plant for only half the necessary monthly payments) and Iran continuing to attempt to influence Iraq as well as potentially develop nuclear weapons, is what prompted the recent completion of an arms deal with Saudi Arabia even after serious opposition in the US congress due to perceived continuing Saudi inability to curb extremists from entering Iraq. The US sees the Russian/Chinese moves to influence the region as a threat and seeks to insure the major oil exporter remains firmly in the United States' pocket.
Out of all the West’s worries about the SCO, the greatest should be control of energy supplies. The war games, at the moment, are a showy distraction.
Even so, today's exercises will serve as a reminder that the global balance of power is shifting.
For the first time ever, China is deploying troops, tanks and aircraft on a combined mission abroad.
The exercises, being held in the Russian region of Chelyabinsk, involve 6,500 troops, heavy weapons and combat aircraft.
While the goal of the mission is to simulate the capture of a city held by terrorists, the sight of Russian and Chinese troops marching together will give observers in Washington pause for reflection.
This also prompted the US to complete a $30bil arms deal with Israel.
This situation may give a whole new perspective on Chinese goods that are suddenly no longer good enough to be sold in the US and a falling Asian market that tripped some panic in the US, London and Germany over sub prime loans and unrecoverable debt by over leveraged mortgage companies.
By mid-morning the FTSE 100 was up 54 points at 5,913, France's CAC 40 had risen 22 points to 5,288. However, Germany's DAX had slid 11 points, to 7,259.
Asian markets have continued their fall today, with Japan's Nikkei tumbling by 5.4pc and Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropping by 3.3pc.[snip]
Mark Mobius, a leading fund manager at Templeton Asset Management, said fear was driving the markets, especially in Asia. "It's a selling panic," he said.
Things do not happen in a vacuum.
Russia is building Iran's nuclear plant and China sells Iran huge amounts of AK-47s, rockets, man-pads, SAMs and other weapons that make their way into Iraq and to mujihadeen in Afghansitan with the biggest arms dealer (a Russian) shipping arms to Iraq, Sudan and other hot spots.
Who are we at war with?
Somebody might want to look into Putin's eyes again.
Update: Russian Bombers flying in NATO space August 17, 2007
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