Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recently visited Islamabad after nearly a decade and delivered an “important” message to the Pakistani leadership from President Vladimir Putin.
“I came with a message from my president that ‘tell Pakistan we are open for any cooperation, whatever Pakistan needs Russia is ready for it’,” Lavrov was quoted as saying by a senior Pakistani official who, according to The Express Tribune, attended the closed-door meeting.
The Russian president’s offer was dubbed by the official as a “blank cheque” as they revealed that Putin had conveyed to Pakistan through his top diplomat that Moscow would help Islamabad in any manner.
“If you’re interested in gas pipelines, corridors, defence or any other cooperation, Russia stands ready for it,” the official quoted Lavrov as saying, explaining what he meant.
“It is now up to us to follow up this successful visit,” the official said.
At the joint news conference with his Pakistani counterpart, the Russian foreign minister had said Moscow was ready to supply Pakistan with “special military equipment” to enhance its anti-terrorists potential. He, however, did not provide further details.
Relations between Pakistan and Russia have undergone transformation in recent years thanks to the new alignments and strategic realities.
The rapprochement between the former Cold War rivals began in 2011 when Pakistan’s relationship with the US hit the rock bottom. At that time, a decision was taken to bring a strategic shift in Pakistan’s foreign policy. The shift envisaged reaching out to Russia as part of Pakistan’s efforts to diversify its foreign policy options.
The two countries initially worked quietly to find common ground. The years-long efforts had resulted in the Russian decision to send its troops to Pakistan for the first time in history for joint exercises in 2016. Moscow even overruled the Indian objections over holding joint drills with Pakistan.
Since then, the two countries have been regularly holding these exercises and they are looking to further deepen that cooperation.
Pakistan is hoping that Russian President Vladimir Putin would visit the country, something that would complete the Pak-Russia ties from being Cold War foes to friends.
In contrast, Russian ties with once its solid ally India are heading in the opposite direction. The two still have good relationship but the usual warmth they expressed earlier have been missing.