Issue Brief on “Pakistan-Russia Strategic Partnership: New Horizons for Cooperation”

Pakistan and Russia have never enjoyed a healthy relationship in their past. The Cold War period was a turbulent time for both states. There were many exchanges of official visits from both sides, but they were not long lasting. After the dismemberment of USSR in 1991, both sides tried again to establish good bilateral relations. In 1999, the visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Russia significantly assisted in breaking the ice and starting a new episode of bilateral relations.  Russian President Boris Yeltsin termed it as a “new chapter in relations between the two countries oriented into the 21st century.” Later on, the visit of ISI Chief, General Mehmood, as President Musharraf’s special envoy, in 2001,  brought a major  shift in  bilateral  relations. The agreement made for the sale  of sixteen MI-17  military  cargo  helicopters  to Pakistan is evidence of that shift.

A new era of Pakistan-Russia bilateral dialogue started during President Parvez Musharraf’s visit to Russia in 2003. This visit was a milestone between both states which opened new horizons for cooperation. In response to improved relations with Pakistan, Russia supported Pakistan’s entry to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as an observer. Russian Prime Minister, Mikhail Fradkov’s visit to Pakistan in 2007 further helped in enhancing bilateral relations and economic cooperation.Two years later, in 2009 Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, General Kayani visited Moscow also helped bolster relations. During the visit of President Asif Ali Zardari to Russia in 2011, the two countries signed MoUs in energy, investment, air services and agriculture. Russia waved its embargo on arms supplies to Pakistan in June 2014 and signed a bilateral defence cooperation agreement with Pakistan in November 2014.

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