From 9 to 25 September 2010, Kazakhstan hosted the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) annual military exercise. All member states were present, with the exception of Uzbekistan.

Officially, the SCO is not a military alliance on a par with NATO, but merely an organization constituted by China, Russia and Central Asian States to confront terrorist and separatist threats. The aim of the "Peaceful Mission-2010" scenario was to neutralize terrorists who had taken control of a key city. However, the scale of the deployment was such - both at the human level (5 000 soldiers) and in logistical terms (tanks, surface-to-air missiles, SU-25 jet aircraft, etc.) - that, behind the words, the simulation is more likely to have involved an operation against a small conventional army.

While the drill displayed the increasing level of effective coordination between Russian and Chinese forces, it also revealed the disorganization prevailing within the Russian armies. They are very cumbersome and slow on transportation, as was witnessed during the coup in Kirghizistan. On that occasion, Moscow decided not to intervene simply because it was incapable of it.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization gains more credibility each year, although the explosive situation brewing at the seat of Russian power is raising doubts about Russia’s military capability and political will in the long run.