Russia’s proposed arms supply to Pakistan won’t impede ties with India and Moscow’s latest energy deal withIslamabad is significant for Russia in the light of sanctions imposed on it by the West, diplomatic sources here said.
It was President Vladimir Putin who himself, as sources here said, assured India that Russia’s decision to expand ties with Pakistan won’t undermine its relations with India in any way in his summit meeting with PM Narendra Modi earlier this month.
The assurance came after the issue of proposed arms supply by Russia to Pakistan was raised by the Indian side. In that context, a source here said, Putin told Modi that Moscow would do nothing to hurt India’s interests.
Ahead of Putin’s visit, India had said that it had noted Russia’s decision to sign a military cooperation agreement with Pakistan which would pave the way for supply of lethal military equipment to Pakistan. It termed as significant the first ever visit to Pakistan by a Russian defence minister last month during which the agreement was signed.
India last week played down reports that Moscow had signed a $ 1.7 billion energy pact with Pakistan for a gas pipeline. Russian authorities here said this should be seen as part of Russia’s attempt to override Western sanctions. The pipeline will be used to supply LNG to Lahore from Karachi.
“This energy contract is actually the part of economic cooperation that becomes more important for Russia in the context of western sanctions,” said a senior Russian government official.
Faced with a shrinking economy for the first time in years and declining oil prices, Russia has been looking to sign gas export deals outside of a hostile Europe, traditionally its main importer of natural gas, and particularly with China. After Crimea’s secession from Ukraine, Russia has already signed two major gas supply agreements with China, including one valued at $ 400 billion.
As the joint statement issued after the summit meet said, India and Russia are looking forward to bilateral cooperation in the fields of oil and gas, electric power production, nuclear energy and renewable energy sources.
While India is likely to soon allocate another site, apart from Kudankulam, for construction of Russia-designed nuclear reactors, the two countries are also looking at collaboration between hydrocarbon companies in oil and gas exploration and production as well as in LNG projects and supplies.