Russia was offered a ‘multidimensional strategic partnership’ by Pakistan as the former rivals celebrated the 70th anniversary of their diplomatic relations. “We believe that long term multidimensional strategic partnership between the two countries will be mutually beneficial for the people of Pakistan and the Russian Federation and would contribute towards regional peace and stability,” the Foreign Office statement said on Tuesday.
Bilateral ties between both the countries have witnessed a new high due to the changing regional and geo-strategic situation in South and Central Asia. However, this was the first instance that Pakistan has officially expressed its desire to take its bilateral ties with Russia to the next level.
“Pakistan-Russia friendship is fast evolving into a mature partnership. Relations between the two countries are today characterised by mutual trust, commonality of interests, and convergence of views on important regional and global issues. Both countries have similar stakes in durable peace and stability in their common neighbourhood, and harbour shared aspirations for regional development and prosperity,” said Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal.
Earlier this month, Russia also began the delivery of Mi-35 advanced assault helicopters to Pakistan; Islamabad and Moscow concluded the $153 million helicopter deal during then-Chief of Army Staff General (retd) Raheel Sharif’s visit to Russia in June 2016. A preliminary contract was signed at the Pakistan Army General Headquarters in Rawalpindi in August 2015.
Pakistan is significant for Russia in two dimensions. First, it serves as an outlet to the Central Asian Republics and the Kremlin would never desire instability there. Second, the strategic location of Pakistan connects the Central Asian region with the Middle East and Indian Ocean – thus Russian goods can access the international market very conveniently through Pakistan.
Moscow also wants to invest in Pakistan’s agriculture technology, including drip irrigation and desert farming. Likewise, Russia is also interested in utilizing China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The fundamental reason for which Moscow would like to become, even an auxiliary, part of CPEC is that it is the long-cherished desire of Russian rulers to have access to the warm waters of the Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean.
With Russia’s growing interests in different sectors of Pakistan’s economy and tapping into the potential areas, it seems that Russia Pakistan bilateral ties are on an upward trajectory.