It is the beginning of a very public romance. The Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov’s two-day visit to Islamabad straight from Delhi is designed to make India a little insecure. This is Lavrov’s first visit to Pakistan in nine years.
Moscow and Islamabad have been inching closer since 2014 when Russia chose to lift the embargo on supplying weapons and military hardware. The decision to supply Islamabad with attack helicopters was described as a “paradigm shift”. The 153 million dollar deal dates back to the then chief of army General Raheel Sharif’s Russia visit in 2016.
Lavrov’s visit to Islamabad has only deepened the military cooperation. Moscow has committed to supplying more equipment to Pakistan. “We stand ready to strengthen the anti-terrorist potential of Pakistan, including by supplying Pakistan with special military equipment,” Lavrov has been quoted as saying.
While there are no details as to what the equipment is, the reason for supplying the equipment is not going to sit well with Delhi. Nor will the claim by Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in his tweet: “Pakistan and Russia share convergent positions on several issues on multilateral agenda including peace & stability in Afghanistan. Shared w/FM#Lavrov our perspective on larger questions of peace & security in S Asia and worsening human right situation in illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir.”
The Kremlin’s closeness to Beijing and an attempt to balance Pakistan with India add to the complexity of the Indo-Russian relationship. In the past few years, Russia has made it clear that it is not in its interest not to have a relationship with Pakistan.