Wednesday, 8 December 2021

Russia, Pakistan ‘keen to expand military ties’

Gen Qamar Col-Gen Salyukov Kremlin Palace Moscow

Gen Qamar meets Col-Gen Salyukov at Kremlin Palace after arriving in Moscow.  ISPR

MOSCOW: Russia on Tuesday said Pakistan is a ‘geo-strategically important’ country and “it is keen to expand its existing military-to-military cooperation” in a significant development at a time when Islamabad’s relationship with Washington continues to deteriorate.

The Russian offer to expand defence and security ties with Pakistan came during Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s visit to Moscow.

Gen Bajwa held talks with Colonel General Oleg Salyukov, Commander Russian Federation Ground Forces, at Kremlin Palace.

“Upon arrival the COAS was presented guard of honour who laid wreath at the Tomb of unknown soldier. National anthems of both countries were played,” said a handout issued by the military’s media wing here.

The notable outcome of the meeting was the acknowledgement by the top Russian military commander for Pakistan’s achievement in the fight against terrorism and contribution for regional peace and stability.

This was in contrast to the US’ position which since Trump came to the White House has repeatedly accused Pakistan for not doing enough.

While Washington appears to have down played Pakistan’s critical role, Russia thinks otherwise.

“Pakistan is a geo-strategically important country and Russia is keen to expand its existing bilateral military to military cooperation,” the Russian Ground Forces Commander said.

Gen Bajwa thanked General Oleg and said that Pakistan reciprocates desire of enhanced bilateral military engagements.

He said that Russia had recently played a positive role to help resolve complex situations in the region.

He said Pakistan will continue to play its part in keeping conflicts away from the region and “seek approaches which bring regional convergences into play rather than the divergences”.

The visit of the army chief was the latest in a series of high-level exchanges between the former Cold War rivals

In February, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif visited Moscow to garner Russia’s support after Trump pressurised Pakistan to do more.

Then the defence minister also visited Moscow. And more recently National Security Adviser Lt-Gen (retd) Nasser Khan Janjua travelled to Russia.

The flurry of visits suggested a new push by Pakistan to diversify its foreign policy options after the US expanded its cooperation and strategic ties with India.

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