The military cooperation agreement signed this week between Pakistan and Russia will allow Moscow to strengthen its arms exports in the region.
The agreement comes months after Russia was demoted to second place by the US as India’s largest weapons supplier. Since losing out on a number of helicopter contracts in India, Russia in June lifted its embargo on arms supplies to Pakistan and is expected to nab a contract to supply 35 MI-35 helicopters. A move that has already brought backlash from the Indian government, expressing its concern over any possible helicopter deal.
“Both sides will translate this relationship in tangible terms and further strengthen military-to-military relations,” said Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Asif without elaborating on the agreement.
Pakistan has traditionally sourced its weapons and aircraft from China, which has only made selective investments in the country. The pact with Russia will give Pakistan access to direct weapons sales without solely relying on China.
Last year Russia's recorded exports to Pakistan were much more limited, valued at a mere $22 million, according to SIPRI.
Pakistan is also reportedly eager to be part of trilateral military projects with Russia and China like the JF-17.
Both sides expressed hope that the agreement will pave the way for exchange of views and information on politico-military issues and well as issues related to strengthening of mutual trust and international security, intensification of counter-terrorist and arms control activities, extension of relations in various fields of military education, exchange of experience in peacekeeping and interaction in peace-supporting operations under the United Nations auspices, extension of relation in military medicine, history, topography, hydrography and military culture.
“The prime minister stressed upon the need to increase bilateral trade between the two countries which currently stands at $542 million and does not correspond to their trade potential,” Pakistan Prime Minister’s (Nawaz Sharif) office said in a statement