Pakistan, Russia hold joint military drills

Mon 22 Oct 2018 06:24 GMT | 10:24 Local Time

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The two-week-long drills will last through Nov. 4

Pakistani and Russian armed forces on Monday launched joint maneuvers in a latest sign of the growing military ties between the two countries, Anadolu Agency reports. 

A Russian army contingent has arrived in Pakistan to participate in the joint military exercise "Druzhba-III", Pakistan Army spokesperson Major Gen. Asif Ghafoor said in a statement.

The two-week-long drills will last through Nov. 4.

This is the third part of a series of military drills in the ongoing Pakistan-Russia military cooperation which was agreed on in a defense deal signed in 2014.

The first part of the exercises was held in Pakistan in 2016 and the second one was in Russia in 2017

Islamabad and Moscow have accelerated defense cooperation in recent years following Pakistan's deteriorating ties with the U.S., mainly on Afghanistan.

Islamabad received four Mi-35 attack helicopters from Moscow last year for $153 million.

Russia, along with China, has appeared as an alternative to the U.S. in the face of Washington's burgeoning defense partnership with New Delhi.

Moscow has also shown interest in the multi-billion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, which is the part of Beijing’s most ambitious foreign economic initiative -- One Belt One Road.

The $64 billion project aims to connect northwest China to Pakistan's southwestern Gwadar port through a network of roads, railways, and pipelines to transport cargo, oil, and gas.

The route will provide the shortest way to Chinese cargo destined for the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa.

Pakistan has reportedly agreed to give Russia access to the Gwadar port for trade in return for a planned Russian railway track between the port and the northwestern Chaman border though details about the port-for-railway deal have yet to emerge. 

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