WILL INDIA BECOME THE THIRD MEMBER OF THE SHANGHAI ORGANIZATION?

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The Asian tour of Vladimir Putin is over. Despite the broad circle of problems discussed by the leaders of the countries, the main topics were combating of international terrorism and military technological and strategic cooperation. Quite recently, the topic of struggle against terrorism was not on the first place on agendas of intergovernmental meetings. Now the need for such a struggle is obvious for everyone.

Vladimir Putin named Russia and China “unique world civilizations”, emphasizing that they bear a special responsibility. After the negotiations, Putin and Jiang Zemin signed the Beijing declaration, which focused on strategic partnership of Russia and China. This is not the first step towards the military cooperation. A long time before the visit of Putin to China, the parties spoke about establishment of a regional antiterrorist organization in the framework of the Shanghai cooperation organization established according to the initiative of the leaders of these countries. When the “unique world civilizations” established the Shanghai organization, they probably pursued the goal of creation of a military political union to be able to parry the policy of NATO. Moreover so, since authority of this alliance started growing in Asia. Naturally, Russia and China do not wish to lose their positions, although there are no traces of anti-American attitude in the policy of the Shanghai organization, because both parties have the same goal, namely combating of international terrorism.

The military technological cooperation has an important role in relations between Russia and China. China wants to arm its armed forces with the most modern armament, which was stressed in the documents of the 16th congress of the Chinese Communist Party. Recently, Russia agreed to sell eight diesel electric submarines, S-300PMU air defense missile systems and Su-30MKK multifunctional fighters to China.

According to the most modest estimates, Russia can earn about $1.5 billion from exports of armament annually. In 2001, the aggregate turnover of trade between Russia and China totaled $10.67 billion.

Whereas the turnover of trade with China amounts to such a huge sum, the annual turnover of trade with India did not exceed $1.5 billion over the last two years. The military technological cooperation accounted for 90% of this sum. This cooperation develops along three lines: supplies of armament, licensed production of the T-70 and T-90 tanks in India, and joint development of the most modern armament models. According to the Indian party, maintenance of the armament supplied by Russia remains the problem in the military technological cooperation between the countries. Indian Armed Forces are armed with Russian weapons by 70-80%.

Not long before the visit of Vladimir Putin to India, Russia and India signed agreements on sale of the heavy aircraft carrying cruiser Admiral Gorshkov to India. However, expectations that the leaders of the countries would sign the contract during the visit of Putin to India did not come true. Now it is expected that the contract will be signed by the end of 2002.

During the visit, the Russian and Indian leaders signed a declaration on further strengthening of strategic partnership. “Being the victims of terrorism originating in neighboring regions, Russia and India are especially interested in ending of this common threat through preventive and hindering measures,” says the declaration. There is no doubt that with regard to India the declaration means Pakistan. Not everything is clear with regard to Russia. Some observers say that the declaration means Georgia, and some say that this is Chechnya. Chechnya does not correspond to the criteria contained in the declaration. It is not a neighboring region for Russia, but is the integral component that suffers from terrorists most of all. Vladimir Putin supported the hints contained in the declaration with a sharp statement made at the press conference. According to Putin, it is necessary to accelerate the work on liquidation of all terrorist infrastructures operating in Jammu and Kashmir.

Thus, cooperation between Russia and large Asian countries goes on primarily in the military and political areas. Developing relations with India and China, Moscow is forming a unit that will be able to really compete against NATO and to create a bipolar world again. The first step on the path to creation of such a union is already made. This is the Shanghai organization. India, which has demonstrated its interest in this organization since the moment of its establishment, cannot join it without agreement of China, because China is the leader of the organization. Vladimir Putin became a kind of intermediary between these Asian countries. If he manages to establish such a powerful “triangle,” he will be able to deal a painful blow at international terrorism and will be a guarantor of security in Asia.

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