Hours after Russia’s envoy to Islamabad Alexey Y Dedov was quoted by Radio Pakistan as saying that “Russia strongly supports the China Pakistan Economic Corridor” the Russian Embassy in Islamabad has urged the media not to make its own conclusions and treat the report carefully.
Speaking to CNN-News18, the embassy’s press attaché Vyacheslav Sentyurin said, “There is no question of joining or investing in the CPEC corridor. We are not going to be a part of it, but we have our own projects which we could connect to it. These ideas are not new and the media has made its own conclusions. We don’t hide such things from India”.
Sentyurin said the press should refer to the Russian Foreign Ministry’s recent statement which said, “Pakistani media reports about secret negotiations between Russia and Pakistan on the implementation of projects as part of CPEC are not true to facts and that Moscow is not discussing the possibility of joining this project with Islamabad”.
While reports quoted the Russian Envoy as saying that Russia was thinking about merging the Eurasian Economic Corridor with CPEC, the embassy clarified that “in the interview with the ambassador it was the merging of the EAEU with Chinese project of Silk Road Belt that was under discussion. Recognising the importance of CPEC for Pakistan’s economy and regional connectivity, the ambassador made it clear that Russia doesn’t participate in it being engaged in realisation of its own large-scale bilateral project with Pakistan – that of “North-South” gas pipeline from Karachi to Lahore”.
Despite the clarification, recent developments have left Indian diplomats and foreign policy experts worried. After all, despite protests from India after the Uri attack Russia went ahead with army and navy drills with Pakistan and has been engaging with the Taliban as well. In fact on the 27th of this month Russia, Pakistan and China will be holding the next round of three way talks on counter terrorism in Afghanistan.
Strategic Affairs Expert Brahma Chellaney says, “India ought to be worried because India and Russia relations have always been stable and now there is an element of uncertainty. Recent developments seen together indicate that Moscow is signalling things which are not in conformity with India’s key interests”. Chellaney also said that the fact that China, Pakistan and Russia are engaging on Taliban shows that something fundamental is happening and India is being isolated as a result.
However, India’s former ambassador to Russia, PS Raghavan said, “There is no rethink on ties with India. In fact results of the recently concluded Indo-Russia summit were far better than expected”. Raghavan feels that Pakistani media reports tend to be exaggerated and the Russian foreign ministry’s statement denying involvement in CPEC is the most authoritative so far. The former envoy also stressed on the importance of President Putin’s recent speech in the Russian Parliament on foreign policy where he referred only to USA, China and India and spoke about the special and privileged strategic partnership with India.
The Indian foreign ministry has refused to comment on Ambassador Dedov’s statements but, sources say government officials are closely following Moscow’s statements on Pakistan.