Showing confidence in the mutual trust shared between India and Russia, Indian Ambassador to Russia Pankaj Saran said, that New Delhi is convinced that Moscow will not do anything that will affect the country’s national interests. In an exclusive interview to ANI, Saran said Indo-Russian relations are based on firm and strong foundation, adding that the focus should be in strengthening own relations than concentrating on ‘third countries’. “Our relations with Russia are very old, very deep, based on mutual trust. These relations are based on firm and strong foundation. We have to look at how we can strengthen our own relations and not really focus our attention on what third countries are doing,” Saran told ANI on being asked about Pakistan’s ties with Russia.
“We have enough on the table. Our bilateral agenda is very rich and as long as India and Russia respect each other’s core vital national interests, we are all right. This is the way we are at present. We are convinced that Russia will not do anything that will affect India’s national interests,” he added. Saran’s statement came in response to a poser on the recent Russia-Pakistan joint military drill. However, following the reports of Russia conducting joint military exercise with Pakistan in September last year, Moscow had rubbished any such reports of holding joint military exercises with Pakistani forces in Gilgit Baltistan, and clarified the anti-terror drills will take place in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region.
The denial came as Russian troops arrived in Islamabad on September 23, 2016 for the first-ever joint exercises with Pakistani forces. The exercise began on September 24, 2016 under the name ‘Friendship-2016’ and reflected growing military ties between the two countries. Deputy Director of Information and Press Department Yury Materiy said that Russia holds such military drills with other countries of the region as well. “On September 23, Indra-2016 joint Russian-Indian anti-terror exercise started at Sergeyevsky training ground in the Primorye Territory,” he added.
In a statement from the Russian embassy in New Delhi on September 23, 2016, Russia said that contrary to some reports appearing in a section of the press, the Russia-Pakistan anti-terror exercise is not being held and will not be held in any point of so-called “Azad Kashmir”, or in any other sensitive or problematic areas like Gilgit and Baltistan. The statement added the only venue of the exercise is Cherat, referring to a place in Kyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Russian Embassy said all reports alleging the drills taking place at the high altitude military school in Rattu are erroneous and mischievous.