A contingent of Russian army arrived in Pakistan on Friday morning to take part in the first ever joint military exercises between the two countries, dubbed as ‘Friendship-2016?, according to statement of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
About 200 soldiers from each side will join the two-week exercise “Druzhba 2016” (Friendship 2016). Lieutenant General Asim Bajwa said, “A contingent of Russian ground forces arrived in Pakistan for the first ever Pak- Russian joint exercise (two weeks) from September 24 to October 10”.
The Russian contingent was warmly welcomed by senior Pakistan Army officials before it left for the training venue.
According to website of Ministry of Defence Russia, the Southern MD servicemen arrived in Pakistan to participate in the ‘Friendship 2016’.
The servicemen will share their experience and improve cooperation while performing assigned tasks in ‘mountains’, including ones aimed at eliminating illegal armed groups.
The exercise is aimed at strengthening and developing military cooperation between the two countries.
The two sides have taken several steps to improve defence relations. The drill reflects the growing military-to-military ties between Pakistan and Russia.
Russia lifted a long-standing embargo on arms sales to Pakistan in 2014. The two sides finalised a deal for four Mi-35 attack helicopters. Pakistan is also showing interest in acquiring more military equipments from Russia.
The joint exercise indicates a steady growth in ties between the two countries. Pakistan’s Envoy to Russia, Qazi Khalilullah had reportedly said the exercise also reflected the increased cooperation between the two sides.
According to media reports, three Services Chiefs of Pakistan also visited Russia over the last two years.