New Delhi: The Russian envoy to India, Nikolay Kudashev, said today that Pakistan has taken “serious measures” to curb terror financing and shown the desire to be a part of global and regional efforts to fight the menace.
His remarks come as ties between Russia and Pakistan appear to grow. In September last year, the two countries held a two-week long military exercise – DRUZBA 2017 – focusing on counter-terrorism operations to boost bilateral defence ties.
Kudashev, however, said it would not be correct to say that Russia was getting closer to Pakistan as Moscow’s relations with New Delhi “are unique and second to no one”.
Responding to a question on whether Russia sees Pakistan as a reliable partner to address its interest in Afghanistan, the envoy said the integrity of Pakistan was growing.
“The credit (must) be given to Islamabad. After this country joined the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation), it started taking serious measures to curb the financing of terror… The integrity of Pakistan is growing and there is no reason to deny its wish, its desire to be part of regional and global efforts to fight terror,” Kudashev said in his address at the Ananta Aspen Centre’s Ambassador Series in New Delhi.
Russia is a key strategic partner of India and its major supplier of defence equipment. India has been maintaining that Pakistan is the “global epicentre of terrorism”.
But Kudashev said the problems in Afghanistan would be impossible to solve without taking on board every neighbouring country.
“This logic also guides us towards further developing relations with Pakistan, which is, on the other hand, Russia’s historic and important regional partner as well. These ties are not emanating from the regional balance of power equations, but growing on their own merits,” he said.
“Importantly, we don’t look at the situation in the region from the point of view of bilateral disputes, which we are not in a position to interfere or take sides,” he said.
Kudashev, a career diplomat and specialist on South East Asia, was appointed Russia’s Ambassador to India in August.
On China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, he said Russia was ready to cooperate with China on BRI, saying it views the controversial project from an economic perspective.
The BRI aims to link Asian and European markets through a maze of rail, road and shipping networks. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a part of BRI and India opposes CPEC as it runs through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Replying to another question, Kudashev hoped that major defence deals, including the one to deliver the Kamov helicopters to India, should be sealed after Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s visit to Russia this month.
Asked about the Russian response to air strikes on it ally Syria by the US, France and the UK, he said there would be a response but within the framework of the international law.
“No body should expect us to follow the American adventursim and provoke conflict in other parts of the world.”
He said after the Islamic State was defeated in Iraq and Syria, the terror group spread its influence in the eastern and northern provinces in Afghanistan and began penetrating Central Asia states “fuelling radicalisation in local Muslim communities and calling for a global jihad”.
This is of immediate concern tor Russia since it has robust people-to-people contacts with these nations, he said.