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Russia & Pakistan to hold bilateral military exercises
March 27, 2017
A dramatic representation of Pakistani SOF operators (SSG/SSW) coordinating with various PAF airborne combat and ISR assets.

Russia & Pakistan to hold bilateral military exercises

Russia and Pakistan will be holding their first bilateral military exercise – designated Friendship-2016 – in the coming months (likely before the end of 2016).

An announcement was made by Pakistan’s new Ambassador to Russia Qazi Khalilullah, who had recently spoken to The Express Tribune about the initiative.

Russia had announced that it would engage in bilateral exercises with Pakistan in the beginning of 2016. The exercises were scheduled as part of a series of bilateral drills, which had also included China, Vietnam, Mongolia, and India.

According to Russian News Agency TASS (in January), the Russian-Pakistani exercise will be a series of drills in mountainous areas. The Express Tribune was able to learn that 200 personnel from both sides would be taking part in Friendship-2016.

Notes, Comments & Analysis:

The growth in Russian and Pakistani defence ties has been framed – especially in the media – as a strategic shift in security dynamics of South Asia. However, unlike the U.S., which has designated distant regions (e.g. Afghanistan) as areas of interest for its long-term security objectives, Russia generally focuses on the security of its immediate frontiers. If there is a strategic component to Moscow’s closer proximity to Islamabad, it would likely be in reference to specific security risks in Central Asia. Exercises pertaining to counterinsurgency (COIN) and programs aimed at understanding Pakistan’s approach to COIN would be a principal objective.

At this time, the envisioned economic and trade growth from the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor initiative is not a factor for Moscow to consider, at least in terms of the short and medium-term. That said, Moscow does evidently see a viable market for its defence hardware in Pakistan, and – whilst also managing India’s sensitivities and concerns – will opt to pursue potential opportunities. Hardware that is closely related to COIN, e.g. light armoured vehicles, transport helicopters, attack helicopters, small arms, etc, would be areas that Russia will likely push to Pakistan if it has not done so already.

Pakistan is actively engaged in COIN operations and it is not short of options in this department. Should it choose Russian weaponry over analogous Chinese or Western options, it would amount to a meaningful boost of credibility for the Russian defence industry in this sphere. Hence, the incentive is much stronger for Moscow and the Russian defence industry in COIN than it is in conventional inter-state security issues.

That said, it would be erroneous to suggest that Russia would not emerge as one of Pakistan’s key vendors in conventional security matters. For example, the JF-17 – i.e. the Pakistan Air Force (PAF)’s backbone multi-role fighter platform – utilizes the RD-93 turbofan engine. The PAF has sought to build a strong relationship with Klimov, the engine-maker, in order to better optimize the turbofan for use in the PAF as well as procure the RD-93’s maintenance, repair and overhaul infrastructure. Should Russia agree to release updated iterations of the RD-93 (e.g. RD-33MK), Klimov will continue maintaining its essential position in the JF-17 program into the long and very long-term.

Regarding the prospect of the Su-35, the statements reportedly made by the Director General of Defence Purchases (DGDP) would suggest that Pakistani interest in the fighter is genuine. However, if accurate, the process is – at best – still in its relatively early stages, and that to Moscow still yet to decide on whether to move ahead with substantive negotiations.

  • nob hamid gul

    This is what i called the side effect of CPEC. Russia wants to benefit from gwadar port.

    • Headstrong

      More accurately, it could be called delusion. People are seriously deluded if they think Russia is going to get into any serious engagement with Pakistan.

      • nob hamid gul

        Yeah agree. Pakistan and Russia don’t have long term interest. They will never support tTaliban gvt as Afghanistan share border with former Soviet nations. They are Muslims majority and may witness some kind of Taliban like group. Russia too have large Muslim population. So this could give some insecurity to them.

        • Sami Shahid

          Russia is already supporting Afghan Taliban…USA created Afghan Taliban against Soviets and now Russia is supporting Afghan Taliban against USA. Not just Russia but even Uzbekistan is supporting Afghan Taliban !

      • Sami Shahid

        Russia wants to sell weapons…why wont it ?

  • Quraishi

    This is just normal, the whole world has normal relations with other countries. Although russia is on the worse side of countries.
    Why is it that any sort of an international deal is such a big thing in pakistan. Other countries does hundreds of deals and it’s just normal, like normal people don’t even discuss them.
    Pakistan could have had great relations with Russia at the cost of usa, again everything has an opportunity cost, pakistan choose not too as they were fighting pakistan.
    I still feel Russia just want to make cash out of pakistan selling us the what is now old us 35, as the new su 50 is coming out soon that will thrash the old su35.

    Pakistan is a very cut off counter from the world, I feel pakistan has to get back to international stage in real as a country, not as a begger or someone always trying to impress other countries or seeking approval for its actions from others.
    In this ear countries are more and more competing as blocks to avail economies of scale, where as in pakistan the pressure is to cut and close even the local internal trade of resource, goods, and services.

    • Sami Shahid

      In which world are you living brother ? SU-50 will be launched maybe after 10 or 15 years ! SU-35 is the latest Russian Aircraft ! If Pakistan adds more $150b than it can still get at least 4 or 5 F-16’s from the US. Pakistan can also buy J-10’s from China and J-10 is a substitute of F-16. We can get anything if we want to its just that we don’t listen too much to the US.

      • Quraishi

        Where are u living lol
        Russian airforce will be inducting su 50 in 2017-2018 one year from now, check again.
        150 billion what r u talking about :s 4-5 f16 for 150 billion :s I think even the f 16 program cost was not 150 billion.
        We don’t want anything we want, we r not beggars, and f 16 or any plane for that matter with aesa now is practically garbage.

  • Sami Shahid

    Pakistan can learn a lot from Russians as Russia is securing its own border from terrorists in its neighboring countries ! ( Worlds biggest border ) plus it has been fighting war against terrorists in its own country. Russia can teach better than the US Army as it has more experience about fighting against terrorists in homeland ! More importantly Russia and Pakistan have same problems like tribal areas and terrorists coming from across the border.

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