The former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan claimed that Russia is crucial to Pakistan’s future. While the West has set out to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for the Ukraine war by placing sanctions on Russian firms and black-listing billionaires, Pakistan is still considering trade with Russia amid an economic crisis. The struggling PTI leader said it was good to take a moral stand on the international stage, but this shouldn’t come at the price of its citizens in an interview with the German network Deutsche Welle (DW).
In an interview with DW, Khan stated that he hopes to safeguard the interests of the populace while also assisting in obtaining gas, oil, and wheat from Russia. “You are taking sides when you start condemning people,” he stated. According to ANI, he also said that while taking a moral stand is good, you should be strong enough to support your country when it is in danger. Khan provided details of his trip to Moscow, where he landed one day before the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The meeting was the following morning when I arrived in Moscow, said the former minister. He added, “The invasion started right after we got up in the morning. I had hardly anticipated this happening. I definitely wouldn’t have made the trip if I had known”.
According to Geo News, the Energy Ministry of Pakistan has asked industrial experts to provide assessments on buying oil from Russia to get the products at a lower price. Pakistan’s monthly fuel imports will soon reach a four-year high, according to some estimates. Refinitiv predicts that South Asian oil imports would rise from 630,000 tonnes in May to roughly 700,000 tonnes this month.
Russia and Pakistan’s relations
On May 1st, 1948, the Soviet Union and Pakistan initially established diplomatic and bilateral ties. The Soviet Union’s relations with Pakistan saw ups and downs for the majority of the Cold War depending on the phases of Pakistan’s history. During this phase of the Cold War, Pakistan is credited with being a crucial ally and supporter of the West.
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In response to the improving relations between India and the United States, Pak-Russian relations have gotten warmer recently. The two countries conducted their first-ever joint military drills in 2016 despite India’s appeal to postpone the exercise in the wake of the Uri attack by December 2016, Pakistan and Russia had agreed on a price for the Pakistan Stream Gas pipeline, which runs from Karachi to Kasur. Russia now has access to a port with warm water in the Arabian Sea thanks to Pakistan (Gwadar Port). Their growing collaboration with China indicates the unmistakable emergence of a new axis in South Asia and Central Asia.
Cold War-era: Pakistan’s role as a willing ally and treaty partner of the US bloc against the Soviet Union was well known. The relations between the two countries greatly improved. It had aided the US in improving its relations with China, which further distanced Moscow and Beijing.
Making room for India: In response, India and the USSR strengthened their relations by signing a defence agreement and increasing their trade and interpersonal interactions. Pakistan actively helped and contributed to the defeat of the Red Army in the first Afghan war, with the US and Saudi Arabia deploying the Pak Army. Pakistan saw itself as a frontline state against the rise of communism.
Putin’s Russia started establishing ties with Pakistan and searching for new foreign partners and markets for its military gear. By that time, Pakistan and the Obama Administration had significant rifts. The turning moment was when US marines assassinated Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, during a covert operation. To the surprise of New Delhi, Russia relaxed its four-decade-old arms embargo on Pakistan in 2011. Within four years, Pakistan would get its first shipment of MiG attack helicopters from Russia. Both nations joined forces in Afghanistan when it seemed increasingly certain that the US would lose the war there, much to the displeasure of India. After the Jaish-e-Mohammed attack in Uri in September 2016, Russia and Pakistan conducted a joint military drill in defiance of New Delhi’s request. Russia sold more helicopters to Pakistan in 2017, when Indo-Pak ties were at their lowest point. China, a longtime ally of Pakistan, became Russia’s friend after it annexed Crimea in 2014, triangulating the relationship. Russia and Pakistan both take part in China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The world has witnessed the three adopt similar stances and make a covert acknowledgement of one another’s interests in Afghanistan since the Taliban took power there. Pakistan wants to convince Russia to invest and construct a $2.5 billion gas pipeline from the seaport in Karachi to Kasur in the Punjab hinterland. Moscow seems to be more enthusiastic about the prospect of constructing the 1,800-km TAPI pipeline, which would connect Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.