Pakistan, Russia agree to boost defence cooperation

Discussion in 'Pakistan' started by LETHALFORCE, Aug 19, 2012.

  1. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    Pakistan, Russia agree to boost defence cooperation - thenews.com.pk

    ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Russia have decided to enter into new phase of defence cooperation as Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafiq Butt has concluded his trip to Russia where he visited various air force related defence installations and had meetings with defence high-ups, including his Russian counterpart.

    It was the first-ever visit of any chief of Pakistan Air Force to that country. Air Chief Marshal Butt who has returned to the Air Headquarters has termed the visit a great success. In a brief chat with The News, Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafiq Butt on Tuesday said ‘it was excellent visit with positive outcome and we can expect greater cooperation with Russia in the field of defence, particularly in air defence.’ Without going into details, he said that Russian authorities are forthcoming and they have agreed for further interaction between the two countries on the question of defence cooperation.

    Pakistan is already using Russian made helicopters but the relationship is required to be diversified and expanded. The Russian choppers are providing useful service, he said. He said that Pakistan is interested in acquiring Russian machinery and equipment but it must be done under a streamlined system. The CAS stayed in Russian capital Moscow for four days and he will submit report pertaining to the trip to Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf.
     
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  3. LETHALFORCE

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    WPR Article | Russia Looks to Build Strategic Leverage in Pakistan

    Russia Looks to Build Strategic Leverage in Pakistan


    Recent high-level visits by Russian officials to Islamabad and an upcoming trip by Russian President Vladimir Putin, the first-ever by a Russian head of state since Pakistan’s independence, are highlighting Russia’s efforts to bolster strategic ties with the South Asian country.

    While looking to secure its near abroad in advance of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan in 2014, Russia is also moving to deepen its geo-economic ties with South Asia as a whole, with Pakistan serving as a gateway for energy trade to the entire subcontinent. For Pakistan, Russia can not only help the civilian government in Islamabad to shore up its economic record, it can also offer an alternative source of military hardware to the country’s armed forces. Diversifying its sources of military supplies has taken on newfound importance for Islamabad given Washington’s increasing reluctance to supply the full spectrum of arms and China’s continued inability to meet all of Pakistan’s requirements.

    The move toward closer ties marks a shift in approach for Moscow, which had previously focused more on containing the security risk that Pakistan represented. In 2009, for instance, then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev emphasized the need to eliminate nests of terror within Pakistan. Now, however, the Russian establishment seems to believe that it cannot protect its strategic underbelly stretching from the Caucasus to Central Asia without Pakistan’s cooperation. However, as the United States has discovered, Pakistan’s commitment to stabilizing the Hindu Kush and beyond can be fickle. China, too, has not received unqualified Pakistani support for containing Uighur separatists in its Xinjiang province. Islamabad’s mixed record notwithstanding, both China and the U.S. have strategic leverage over Pakistan, something that Russia is now looking to replicate.

    To this end, Russia will find Pakistan’s urgent need for energy supplies, a key area of Russia’s core competence, useful. Indeed, it is no wonder that Moscow is seeking to emerge as an important partner to Islamabad in this domain. Russia is backing the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline and has apparently agreed to make a major investment in the Iran-Pakistan pipeline, both of which look to provide much-needed natural gas to Pakistan’s transportation sector. Putin’s visit may also see an official announcement of Russian participation in the key Thar coal project. Discussions about integrating Pakistan into a Central Asia-wide electricity grid are also underway, having begun following Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari’s participation in the August 2010 summit among Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

    In addition to providing Pakistan with an incentive for counterterrorism cooperation, this bid to draw the country into a web of regional economic engagement dovetails well with Moscow’s desire to have a major, if not controlling, stake in almost all transnational energy projects in Eurasia. While Russia has, until now, fended off all serious challenges to its supply pipelines to Europe and is revving up supply to China, Moscow has as yet been unable to make much forward movement toward India, due chiefly to the fact that the two countries do not share a common border. Bringing Pakistan onboard will be central to making progress toward penetrating the Indian market.

    Russia’s upgrade of economic ties with Pakistan is also set to bring renewed investment to the Pakistan Steel Mills, in a direct throwback to the mid-1970s, when the most visible symbol of Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s effort to strengthen ties with the Soviet Union was Soviet help in establishing the mills. However, though economic ties deepened during the Soviet era, the defense relationship never really blossomed. Moscow is now looking to change that, with an eye to enhancing its leverage by becoming a substantial provider of Pakistan’s security needs.

    Truth be told, Moscow has been moving in this direction for some time. In 2007, then-Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov’s visit to Pakistan saw Moscow clear the sale of RD-93 engines for the joint Sino-Pakistani JF-17 fighter aircraft, which is set to become the Pakistani air force’s mainstay heading into the 2020s. Moscow has also allowed Uzbekistan to sell four IL-78 refueling aircraft to Pakistan in the past decade and may supply spare parts for the Pakistani army’s Ukrainian-origin T-80UD tanks.

    For Pakistan, Russia’s emergence as a defense supplier is certainly a welcome development, as Russia can be a cost-effective source of weapons and platforms that the Americans will not deliver and that the Chinese cannot yet provide. In addition, Russian exports will help Pakistan further secure its goal of diversifying its sources of arms supply.

    For India, Russia’s engagement with Pakistan may cut both ways. On one hand, Russia may draw Pakistan into a regional trade network that moves Pakistan into a closer economic embrace with India and secures transnational energy supply routes to India. On the other hand, Moscow’s willingness to supply military systems to Pakistan will mean that India will have to contend with yet another major partner that keeps an arms pipeline open to Islamabad, while looking to sell New Delhi higher-end systems and engage it in co-development and joint production partnerships. This is, after all, the pattern followed by France, Germany and the U.S. -- and now Russia. Indeed Moscow may believe that, in an era of balancing interests, it can calibrate a strategic relationship with Pakistan that may not raise the hackles of Russia’s No. 1 defense partner, India.

    India, however, will track closely whether Russia’s engagement with Pakistan is providing Islamabad with strategic breathing room, now that U.S. views on the Afghanistan-Pakistan security dynamic have gravitated significantly toward India’s positions. Indeed, while regional economic engagement may boost Pakistan’s economy, if Pakistan does not facilitate India’s own efforts in this regard, it may indicate a hardening of Islamabad’s stance toward its eastern neighbor. New Delhi will certainly hope that it does not have Moscow to thank for that.
     

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