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Russia willing to support Pakistan’s counterinsurgency efforts
February 22, 2018
Photo credit: Russian Helicopters

Russia willing to support Pakistan’s counterinsurgency efforts

In a press conference with journalists on January 15, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia will continue supporting Pakistan’s counterinsurgency (COIN) and counter-terrorism (CT) efforts.

“You rightly noted the intensification of our cooperation in the fight against terrorism,” said Lavrov. “We are interested in the fact that this terrorist threat, which spreads both to the Pakistani territory and to Afghan territory, is poured through your border with Afghanistan, was suppressed. ”

Lavrov added that this support also includes the supply of armaments to Pakistan, such as the four Russian Helicopters Mi-35M assault helicopters on order by (and apparently delivered to) Pakistan.

Lavrov lauded Pakistan’s entry into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which he believes will see expansion “for joint work in a variety of areas” and “enrich Russian-Pakistani ties.”

Notes & Comments:

While principally agreeing to sell defence items to Pakistan, the tone of Pakistani-Russian military ties has thus far been that of COIN/CT. The bilateral special forces exercise “Friendship” – which had been held in 2016 and 2017 – is indicative of this notion. In 2016, Rosoboronexport, the Russian state’s arms industry promotional agency, used Pakistan’s marquee defence exhibition, IDEAS, to promote weapons “favoured by Russian special units and law enforcement officers, specialized in antiterrorist operations” such as the BTR-80A, BTR-82A and BMP-3M armoured personnel carriers (APC), Kalashnikov assault rifles (i.e. AK-101, AK-102, AK-103 and AK-104) and simulator systems. Pakistan’s Mi-35M purchase was also cast in this light.

This commercial focus contrasts with the anticipation – driven by statements from Pakistani officials along with reports by Russian and Pakistani media – that Pakistan could seek conventional arms, such as fixed-wing fighter aircraft, main battle tanks and air defence systems, from Russia. While conventional weapons sales to Pakistan have not come to pass, Pakistan has also been tentative about buying Russian arms for COIN/CT operations. Thus far, this has only come to pass in the Mi-35Ms, but has not progressed to other areas which Russia was willing to engage upon, such as assault rifles and wheeled and tracked APCs.

 

  • Hashim Rasheed

    I believe Pakistan should buy from Russia whatever they willingly offer. We have seen with the purchases from the US that whenever there is a strain in relations, it directly effects the sale and service of defense items for Pakistan. If not fixed-winged aircraft, purchase of gunship helicopters in a suitable quantity would be a very realistic and desirable outcome.

    • Joseph

      I think there is also the possibility, at least I was reminded at here from time to time, that Russia may withdraw service and support of Russian equipment on request of India since India is a much bigger customer of Russian military hardware.

      I think Americans cutting aids to Pakistan is probably because they are withdrawing from middle east and they don’t need Pakistan as much as before. Another reason I think is that India formed military alliance with US and started buying American military equipment, that gives them some influence over US foreign policy.

    • @@$h¡$h

      Well that’s even gonna happen with Russians as well.. Even India’s su-30 fleet is dying because of their low maintainence and spare part support.

      • Violet

        With all due respect what you claim is atleast 2 years old. I would sincerely urge you to re-check your sources because right now not only they seem to be highly inaccurate but apparently a lot has happened since the news first broke. The latest reports (as of february 2017) confirm that the Su-30 MKI fleet availability has risen to 63% and is projected to rise further.

        In 2015 the CAG report on air force readiness informed the Indian parliament that the Su-30 MKI fleet in service with the IAF suffered from an abysmal mission availability rate of 46%. And thats true! IAF under Air Marshal Arup Raha back then also confirmed the same. After it created a nation wide panic of sorts that most of IAF’s Sukhoi fighters are not available to go to war at any given time and with the opposition congress party literally grabbing BJP’s throat over the issue, the defense ministry under Manohar Parrikar earnestly took to resolve the matter. What happened next was a series of meetings and high level sit-downs with the Russians over a course of many months which resulted in setting up of MRO facilities for not only AL-31F engines but RD-33 engines as well in HAL plants of Koraput, Pune and Bengaluru. By december 2015, the first dedicated MRO facilities for these engines were already up and running with others following on in the successive months. Consequently, just a little over one year later, that is in January 2017 defense minister Manohar Parrikar replying to a parliamentary enquiry committee stated that the mission availability of the Su-30 MKI fleet has risen to 63%. Later HAL’s T. Suvarna Raju confirmed that the availability of Su-30 MKI fleet will rise further as India and Russia have signed joint agreements to create local depots and supply chains for engine parts from which they would be procured directly.
        Links of Russian and Indian media outlets affirming the same:
        https://defenceupdate.in/cr
        https://sputniknews.com/mil
        http://www.financialexpress

      • Rolexer

        Wrong! The current availability rate of Su-30 MKI fighters in service with the IAF is over 63% (from the previous 46%) as was told by defense minister Mr. Manohar Parrikar to Indian parliament in January 2017. What you claimed in your comment is over 2 years old and since then Russia and India have done a lot to improve the serviceability of the fleet after this news created a furore in India back in 2015. The goal was to ultimately take the serviceability rate to 75% in a gradual fashion and I won’t be surprised if the availability rate as of today would be somewhere around 70% since it was 63% exactly an year ago. In a few months we might get to know the current rates, after the parliamentary committee convenes. Here are the links from both Russian and Indian media quoting the defense minister Manohar Parrikar and the figure if 63% back in January 2017.
        https://sputniknews.com/military/201701041049247824-india-russia-fighter-aircraft-pact/
        https://defenceupdate.in/critical-india-russia-pact-to-improve-fighter-aircraft-availability/
        Russians have helped HAL in establishing newer MRO facilities and local supply chains for both AL-31F and RD-33 engines along with granting license for manufacturing spare parts locally. This required Russian export laws to be changed in some instances which made exception for India.

        • Headstrong

          It’s touching 70% now

          • J.Arandas

            That’s right!!
            Moreover the standard prescribed rates for aircrafts in the USAF and USN fleet is 80%. With IAF achieving mission availability rates close to 75%, it will be at par with the global standards. Last year it was reported in February that the availability rate of F/A-18 “super hornets” in service with the USN is just 53% and the average availability rate of jets in USAF’s inventory is around 62%.
            https://breakingdefense.com/2017/02/62-of-f-18-hornets-unfit-to-fly-dod-hill-focus-on-readiness/
            Now when you compare IAF with US, which make their own jets and operate it, I don’t think IAF is doing badly in any way. Due credit should be given to the former defense minister Manohar Parrikar and our Russian friends who were prompt in addressing the concerns and who even went to the extent of changing their export laws to help India.

        • TZK

          With no new orders in the pipeline from India the Russians have even given the Indians the TOT to make their own spare parts for existing Russian inventory. Russians are good chess players but Indians are the better businessmen.

        • Mahesh

          One thing I must say and I hate to say this since I am not one of the huge fans of Rahul Gandhi or Congress, is that they were literally on BJP’s back forcing them to make amends in our defence preparedness. I don’t know if I should outrightly thank them for that. They grilled Manohar Parrikar on the issue of availability of Su-30 MKI in the parliament which forced him to publicly declare the availability rates in front of the Indian media. Was it wrong? You bet it was. Sensitive defense issues like readiness of our frontline fighters are not to be made public but congress for political gains forced them to do it! Was congress right in doing so? I don’t think so. In their pursuit of political victory and to score brownie points, their pseudo-efforts did lay to rest the perennial myth about our Su-30 MKIs. If a party like Congress is not raising the issue of Su-30 MKI fleet again, especially with elections round the corner, I am sure it’s a sign that our Su-30 fleet is in a healthy state.

          • TZK

            It appears that the Indian national interest was served whatever the motivation.

      • TZK

        Why do you think they lost the cold war and why is India now buying western equipment. Rafale, now a single engine jet, transport planes, P8 etc, basically anything India cannot make itself. Admittedly the Indian Navy is still buying old Russian ships. Also in todays world old cold war alliances have no value and if the Russians think they can get India back as a major customer they are mistaken. In relation to Pak the big issue is financial constraints and Russia at present needs to sell for cash probably upfront but if they are worried about upsetting India they are mistaken as they have already lost India.

      • @@$h¡$h

        Sorry to pierce your bubble… But one of my friends had put an rti in Nov 2017 to check the availability for combat percentage of su-30 . They reported it to be 56″%

      • Jigsaw

        Now that’s pretty flawed to say India’s SU-30 fleet is dying. I understand the urgency. While Pakistanis tend to think it’s dying, Indians like to think the availability is all time high now. I think for Pakistan it really should not matter if the SU-30 fleet is 30% available or 90%. Bottom line. You do not plan your encounters with media intel – and that’s exactly what these are. Who knows for sure anyway? One day the defence minister claims it – Ok right!. Most of these figures come out on media for public consumption – The sense of insecurity in the indian public will touch all time high if those fleet numbers do not touch an all time high, one way or another.

        What Pakistan should know and plan with is that every platform in IAF is flying with 90% availability. The only thing you can actually be sure is the kind of fleet they are flying – where it’s largely obsolete, it is and will also be composed of some very high end assets including Rafales, F-16s B70, and SU30s too.

        PAF itself will need to do better here than relying on JF-17 1/2, or even block 3 and F-16 B52s.

        • Steve

          We need MORE numbers! Three squadrons of gen 4-4.5 are the minimum requirement.

  • Shariq Shakil

    Maintenance issues with russian systems, budget constraints and changing outlook at eastern and western border may be the main reasons why pak military think tank is still acquiring arms in small numbers…

  • TheSchwantzPhenom

    Bilal, I honestly don’t think that Russia showcasing its COIN/CT platforms like APCs in IDEAS 2016 should be accorded too much importance. It doesn’t imply that it was done with the sole intention of marketing the hardware for Pakistani military. For example, Russia even participates in the military exhibitions and airshows of UK and Canada. They bring their latest state-of-the-art conventional weaponry to such shows even though UK and Canada hardly, if ever, use Russian hardware.The idea behind it is to advertise their weaponry to all international clients visiting such arms exhibitions and not to one particular country. It would have meant something only if Pakistan would have officially discussed the purchase of the same with Russia on a bilateral level (like the deal for Mi-35). But that has not happened, atleast not publicly.

    • Serbia77

      I also thought the same. Also one of the things about Russians is that they are not foolish as a lot of people in the west think them to be. They know very well which side of their bread is buttered and are not naive when it comes to business. For example, according to 2017 data published by SIPRI, India was by far the biggest buyer of Russian arms accounting for nearly 38% of all Russian arms export globally. China is its second biggest market at a distant second accounting for only 13% of the total Russian arms export. As is evident, the impact which India has on keeping the military industrial complex of Russia running is substantial. With the ongoing western sanctions and a weakening russian economy, Russia is no doubt looking for new buyers like turkey, saudi arabia and south korea to compensate for its economic losses. But Russians wouldn’t be willing to do that at the cost of losing huge and flourishing defense markets like India. That is one of the reasons i believe Pakistan might not see any latest russian hardware in any meaningful numbers unlike Turkey or Saudi Arabia for the time being. Moreover, its no secret that India by the virtue of its strong diplomatic relations with Russia, exerts a considerable influence on the Russian foreign policy especially in matters related to India’s immediate neighborhood. The same can be said in vice-versa as well. Infact US in its National Security Strategy (NSS) 2017 had explicitly acknowledged the foothold of Russia in the Indian defense policy which was a major impediment to the sale of US military equipment to India. Signing the foundational pacts such as the CISMOA and BECA would see more advanced US technology being offered to India but the Indian government has refused to do so for the past 3 years citing ‘sovereignty’ and ‘security’ concerns. A sign that India continues to engage the US tactfully and is only engaging the US as long as it gets hardware which is not available with Russia such as military drones and single engine multi-role fighter jets. Inspite of all the false hype regarding the tectonic “geo-political shift” in the alliances and what not, one thing which can be agreed upon is that both India and Russia have agreed to give each other some leeway and allow the other to pursue a foreign policy of their liking as long as it doesn’t directly impact their national security vis-a-vis their interests in immediate neighborhood…. like the rise of ISIS in afghanistan for Russia and increased military capabilities of Pakistan for India. Probably selling 4 relatively old and not so sophisticated Mi-35s not only addresses Russia’s insurgency concerns but also keeps the Indian sensitivities in mind.

  • Jigsaw

    4 Mi-35s is a joke from both sides.
    More talk than action so far.

    • TZK

      Pak will primarily use it for coin operations as it can carry special forces to vantage points on high ground to direct fire or surveillance on the AFPAK border. For the eastern border you will need something like Mil 28 hind which has air to air capability as well. Russians don’t want to upset the Indians so that will be out of the question for the time being.

    • Omar Dar

      Deals of this kind always start in small quantities. When India inducted the MIG-21, its initial batch consisted of just a dozen jets, which were destroyed at Pathankot by the PAF. India went on to buy a 1000 of those planes. Patience is key here.

  • sami shahid

    Well Pakistan should have bought gunship helicopters from Russia or Turkey for eg Mi-28 and T-129 because they are good & cheap. US has blocked the military supplies and now we will get our 9 AH-1z helicopters only if it is in the interest of US national security otherwise no. We could have bought at least 14 gunships from Russia or Turkey worth $1b that we have to US. Anyway, I believe we should buy at least 4 more MI-35 helicopters.

    • Basu Vivek

      Haha russia is indias partner they will never sell arms to Pakistan . If it will like to sell india will offer to buy more weapons and pak deal will be abolised .

      • Omar Dar

        Haha. Times have changed. India has shown its true face when it backstabbed Russia and fell into the lap of the Americans. That is why Russia has lifted its arms embargo on Pakistan. Everything in the world doesn’t revolve around money.

        • foto wink

          You know one thing you need to pay for those weapons , Russians​ won’t give it for free like usa.

          • TZK

            USA will not deliver weapons Pak paid for and to add insult to injury charge storage. Something for India to look forward to!

      • sami shahid

        We want these helicopters for counter insurgency and border security. Keep laughing

  • Jigsaw

    What’s the status on super sukhoi upgrade in IAF? Has it started yet?

  • TZK

    India has given very strong hints to Russia for instance they wanted western avionics in the Mil 28 Hind before rejecting it and selecting Apache, same with the MRCA tender.

    Russians need to realise that they are now operating in a competitive Indian market dominated by the west. Either they up their game or India will keep selecting western arms and only rely on Russia for those that it cannot get from elsewhere.

    May be they are thinking that they have invested too much in India in technology transfers to let the west take Indian market away from them easily. One thing is for sure, longer they pander to Indian sensitivities the less they will sell.

    • John Nobody

      They need to see money before they swing on Pakistan’s side. India still owns lots of Russia arms and their maintenance and parts supply earns them more than what Pakistan can pay for new equipment. They are selling basic equipment in small quantities to force India to pay more attention to them.

      • TZK

        They have some leverage over spares which they are not using, they supply Pak with basic equipment to get Indian attention but India is unmoved. I suppose by this logic if the situation remains the same they will start selling more advanced equipment to Pak at some future point and all dependant on what India does. If I was Pak I would stick with Turkey and China!

        • Faisal

          It kind of started then Russia came under sanction and couldn’t arrange financing. Army had negotiated deal for 30 or so Mi-35s originally. India will never let them become completely isolated … to a point where they will find new markets and will sell to Pakistan whatever Pakistan can afford. Russia had success with selling S-400 to India.

          • TZK

            If you want to buy from Russia put the ball in their court. Have the money up front and ask for their latest equipment.

  • TZK

    India effectively has a foot in each camp, are they not leaving themselves open to sanctions from either side should the relationship between USA and Russia deteriorate. It appears that the USA is shifting its emphasis to Russia as well as China. In relation to Pak USA is a closed door so approaching Russia will not affect it as much as India.
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-military-china-russia/u-s-military-puts-great-power-competition-at-heart-of-strategy-mattis-idUSKBN1F81TR

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