Kazakhstan's multi-vectored foreign policy is getting a workout these days -- just over a week after the conclusion of the U.S.- and UK-backed Steppe Eagle exercises, Kazakhstan is hosting a Shanghai Cooperation Organization exercise, starting today:
The six member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will begin the Peace Mission-2010 joint anti-terror exercises on Thursday at the Matybulak training ground in Kazakhstan.
In all, 5,000 troops from SCO member states (Russia, China , Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan) will take part. Each of the member states will contribute at least one operational-tactical group.
Russia will send over 1,000 troops, some 130 armored vehicles (tanks, self-propelled artillery systems and infantry fighting vehicles), more than 100 trucks, and over 10 aircraft (including Su-24 Fencer tactical bombers, Su-25 Frogfoot close-support aircraft and Mi-8 transport helicopters).
Not that these things can exactly be quantified, and we don't know many details about what sort of troops are participating in the exercises, but China, like Russia, is sending 1,000 troops. Steppe Eagle included 50 Americans and 5 British troops. Presumably the large bulk of the Central Asian troops in the SCO exercise will be Kazakh, and so they would also greatly outnumber the 1,000 troops that took part in Steppe Eagle. Should we read something into those numbers?