In a surprise move, Russian troops landed in Pakistan on September 23 for the first-ever joint military exercises. Some 200 troops from the two countries take part in the drill, officially described as anti-terror exercise, to October 10. The joint military exercises were apparently intended to highlight growing defense ties between Moscow and Islamabad, the two former Cold War rivals.
The Russia-Pakistan joint drill raised questions whether it could adversely affect Moscow-Delhi traditional ties as the Kremlin was seen as siding with Islamabad in the territorial dispute with India. The Russian Embassy in India was forced to dismiss media reports that the Russia-Pakistan drill could be held in areas disputed with India, including “Azad Kashmir,” Gilgit and Baltistan. In response, India voiced concerns towards what New Delhi described as “Pakistan-sponsored cross-border terrorism” and these concerns were also conveyed to its strategic partner, Russia.
The drills in Asia appeared to highlight Russia’s converging interests with China and Pakistan, despite possible adverse repercussions for relations with India and ASEAN. Yet the wisdom of Russia’s latest policy of war games can remain a matter of debate.
MOSCOW (AT)–Military exercises seem becoming instrument of choice of the Kremlin’s foreign policy. Some of these drills also proved instrumental to raise eyebrows in Asia, and elsewhere.