Visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Islamabad on April 7 that Russia will provide unspecified military equipment to Pakistan as the two countries increase cooperation to fight terrorism.
Russia and Pakistan will also conduct joint naval and land exercises, he said.
Lavrov’s two-day visit marks the first to Islamabad by a Russian foreign minister in nearly a decade and is widely regarded as part of an effort to foster deeper bilateral relations that have warmed only recently.
Lavrov’s meetings with Pakistani officials followed a stop in rival neighbor India and were expected to touch on efforts to establish peace in another neighboring country, Afghanistan.
“We stand ready to strengthen the anti-terrorist potential of Pakistan, including by supplying Pakistan with special military equipment,” Lavrov said.
Moscow has recently sought to assert greater influence in conflict-torn Afghanistan as the United States and other Western powers try to extricate themselves from a two-decade war.
Russia is also helping to construct a gas pipeline between Pakistan’s port city of Karachi and eastern Lahore.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Islamabad welcomes Russian expertise on rail and energy-sector modernization.
Qureshi also said Pakistan will purchase 5 million doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19, which is being used in dozens of countries but has run into regulatory delays in the European Union.
Pakistan’s security establishment is seen as close to the Afghan Taliban, which is fighting the central government in Kabul amid stalled intra-Afghan peace talks, and is said to wield leverage to influence that militant group’s actions.
A May 1 deadline is approaching for U.S. and other foreign troops to leave Afghanistan in line with an agreement Washington signed with the Afghan Taliban in Qatar in February 2020.
Afghanistan has seen a nationwide spike in bombings, targeted killings, and violence on the battlefield as common ground evades peace negotiators in Qatar.
U.S. President Joe Biden has warned that the May withdrawal deadline will be difficult to meet, raising the prospect that the entire agreement with the Taliban will unravel.
Later this month, Taliban and Afghan government representatives are expected to gather for a U.S.-backed international conference in Turkey meant to give new impetus to peace talks.