The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is a bit modified and extended.
Russia has rubbished Pakistan’s claims that it has requested to join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
According to the Russian news agency TASS, the Russian Foreign Ministry has not initiated any negotiation on joining CPEC, the $46 billion mega project that Pakistan sees as the next big thing in the nation’s history that will transform it into a hub a regional and economic activity in this part of Asia.
In a flat denial that highlighted ‘secret talks’, the Russian Foreign Ministry said, “Reports on the ‘secret talks’ between Russia and Pakistan on implementing the projects within the framework of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that have appeared in the Pakistani media are not true. The TASS report added that any possibility of Russia’s involvement to this initiative has not been discussed with Islamabad.
Pakistan recently accepted Russia’s request to use Gwadar port for its exports. And today’s clarification by Russia says it was limited to the use of Gwadar port as a strategic trade stopover only. That means all the big talks in the Pakistani establishment and media about Russia joining CPEC were nothing but cooked up propaganda stories.
Perhaps, the Pakistani media reports follow the claims of its prime minister and president. Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif, during his Turkmenistan visit last week, had claimed that may countries including Russia had shown willingness to join CPEC and he welcomed the Russian initiative. His words were echoed by the President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain who said that the Russian interest showed significance of the project. Reiterating the Pakistani establishment’s version, Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria yesterday said that ‘Russia had shown a keen interest to boost its relations with Pakistan’.
Pakistani media had picked up these clues and had widely reported on Russia joining CPEC. A report in The Nation went on to the extent to claim that Alexander Bogdanov, Federal Security Services chief, had made a secret visit to Pakistan, the first visit by any Russian intelligence chief in 14 years, during which he had forwarded the Russian request to join CPEC. Interestingly, according to The Nation report, the Russian request was accepted and the Gwadar Port permission was given under this only. Geo News in its coverage said that after the Gwadar Port access, Russia also wanted to join the CPEC to ‘reap the maximum dividends’.
All those claims, by Pakistani leaders as well as by its media, proved a bunch of lies today. Russia is India’s oldest defence partner and was also the largest one, when seen on annual trade figures, until it was overtake by the US in 2014. Now with big defence deals signed between Russia and India during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s India visit in October 2016, Russia is there again and it would never want to lose the big opportunity that India’s $100 billion defence upgade provides.
India is opposed to CPEC because a part of it passes through Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir. For strategic reasons also, India doesn’t welcome a Chinese presence just across the border in a disputed territory that India considers its own. Prime minister Narendra Modi has conveyed these concerns to Chinese President Xi Jinping.