A spokesman for the Kremlin, the seat of Russia’s government, has said Moscow highly values cooperation with Islamabad in the sphere of counter-terrorism.
“Russia highly values counter-terrorist cooperation with Pakistan as a key player in the field,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russia’s Sputnik news agency.
“Pakistan is one of the key countries in the fight against terrorism,” Peskov said. “In this regard, Russia of course attaches great importance to cooperation with Pakistan.”
Last month, the commander of Russia’s ground forces, General Oleg Salyukov, announced the country will hold the first ever joint Russia-Pakistan counter-terrorism exercises in mountainous terrain this year.
“As part of interaction with our foreign colleagues in 2016, we have scheduled seven joint exercises with the involvement of the relevant units of foreign states. The army will hold the Russian-Vietnamese exercise and the first-ever Russian-Pakistani special drills in mountainous terrain,” Salyukov had said.
A Russian delegation also arrived in Pakistan last month to discuss the sale of military hardware to the country. Pakistan had already signed a deal for the purchase of four Mi-35 attack helicopters from Russia last year. According to reports, Pakistan is also interested in purchasing state-of-the-art Su-35 fighter aircraft from Russia.
Moscow had for long ignored Islamabad in a bid to please its long-term ally New Delhi. But as a result of India’s growing tilt towards the US, Russia has now started expanding its cooperation with Pakistan.
For its part, Islamabad is eager to improve its ties with Moscow to diversify its options in the event of any stalemate in ties with Washington.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 12th, 2016.