If we look into history, Russia and Pakistan had been enemies in cold war time. The invasion of Soviet Union in Afghanistan propelled Pakistan to have strong ties with US. After division of Soviet Union, Pakistan and Russia had hardly made any significant joint venture.
But now it looks like melting of ice between Pakistan and Russia relations. Pakistan’s relations with Russia have warmed up with Moscow lifting the arms embargo on Pakistan in 2014. Russia decided to sell Mi-35 attack helicopters to Pakistan in 2015 and now Russia is doing first ever joint military exercise this year. Russian troops have arrived in Islamabad three days before to take part in a two week military exercise, a first in the two countries’ modern history. Around seventy Russian soldiers and officers along with 130 Pakistani counterparts are taking part in the war games called ‘Friendship 2016, which started already two days before.
Despite India’s growing ties with Israel and United States, it has long treated Russia as a steadfast ally. Moscow has also seen India’s growing ties with USA with apprehension. Although the opposition in Indian parliament has attacked the Modi government for compromising on strategic autonomy by signing the logistics agreement, yet India has explained that the agreement does not lead to a military alliance.
With this military exercise, the political experts are of opinion that there there is change in regional politics. Pakistan and Russia are coming closer while Russia and India are moving farther.
This military exercise has come at a time when India tried to intensify diplomatic pressure against Pakistan by establishing strong ties with US. Friendship 2016 is a development which will be watched with concern by both India and US. This joint exercise will further strengthen Pak-Russia relations and it will strengthen to develop military cooperation with Pakistan.