The Relationship between Russia and Pakistan


Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev and Pakistani National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf held bilateral consultations on security issues and discussed the situation in Afghanistan on Wednesday in Moscow, the Russian Security Council said.

Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, relations between Russia and Pakistan have remained weak. Back then during the time of the Cold War, Pakistan was a close ally of the West while India mainly sided with Soviet Russia.

Russia and Pakistan were involved in military activities against each other with devastating consequences. In 1971 the Soviet Union sent weapons and assisted to arrange training camps for the Mukti Bahini guerrilla resistance movement in East Pakistan (as described by Ex-Soviet KGB foreign intelligence chief Leonid Shebarshin and Indian Intelligence Bureau officer Malloy Krishna Dhar). Moscow contributed to Pakistan’s defeat in the 1971 war and the emergence of Bangladesh as a state. This war contributed to the disintegration of Pakistan.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was no reason for Russia and Pakistan to avoid each other. Despite welcoming positive signals from Islamabad, Russian presidents were slow in their moving towards Pakistan. Vladimir Putin never visited Pakistan.

The decision to facilitate cooperation between Russia and Pakistan was long expected. It was made only recently, in 2021, and resulted in the visit of the Russian Defence Ministry delegation to Islamabad. After that both countries passed a number of milestones. . The two countries agreed on the delivery of four Mi-35 combat helicopters. They may arrive in Pakistan in 2022.

In 2020 the Kalashnikov Concern participated in the trials for a main new assault rifle for Pakistan’s infantry. The media in both countries reported about possible deals on additional Mi-35 helicopters (up to 20 aircraft), Su-35 and the fifth-generation Su-37 aircraft, and even air-defence systems. However, these supplies are seen as very unlikely as of today.

Economic ties between Russia and Pakistan are not so good. In their statistical data, the governments of both countries mention each other under the word “others.” Bilateral trade volume between Russia and Pakistan decreased in 2020 by 13 per cent and reached $395 million (as compared to $453 million in 2019).

The governments of Russia and Pakistan signed an agreement on cooperation in the construction of the ‘North-South’ gas pipeline (from Karachi to Lahore). This agreement may help both countries to boost the bilateral trade with the Russian side of $2 billion in the project.

Nonetheless, the facade of the relations between Russia and Pakistan looks impressive. Moscow and Islamabad clearly intend to deepen military cooperation and trade and to have permanent political, military, and security dialogue.

This intention should be supported, since improving relations between Russia and Pakistan are one of the ways to end the legacies of the Cold War, and to make a contribution to the new world order. Promising opportunities for a new level of Russia’s cooperation with Pakistan will be opened in 2022 because this nation becomes a full member-state of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) along with India.

Finally, the real partnership with both India and Pakistan is possible only if Russia realizes and articulates their independent value for itself, makes its policy there South Asia-oriented, protects its ties with India and Pakistan from the third countries’ influence, and avoids U-turns and any kind of unpredictability in its foreign policy strategy.


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