In the wake of the growing tension between Ukraine and Russia, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit Russia on February 23 and 24, the first time a Pakistani premier has visited Moscow in 23 years. The Russian news agency Tass reported on Sunday that Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for the Russian presidential administration, said preparations for Imran Khan’s visit were ongoing. PTI reported that Imran Khan is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss key issues.
Additionally, the two countries are expected to sign important agreements during the visit, which include a step forward on Russian investment in a $2 billion gas pipeline, Pakistani media reported last week.
As a result of this gas pipeline agreement, the United States has threatened to halt the Nord Stream 2 project if Russia invades Ukraine. A 1,200-kilometer pipeline will transport gas from the Russian coast at St Petersburg to Lubmin, Germany, beneath the Baltic Sea. By operating at full capacity, the gas pipeline would be able to alleviate the present gas shortages in Europe as well as high energy prices
Furthermore, during Imran Khan’s visit, the Pakistani government hopes to conclude a trade agreement with Russia. Another development project expected to be considered is the gas pipeline from Kazakhstan. According to The Express Tribune, the two leaders will discuss bilateral cooperation and regional and global issues of mutual concern. A Russian delegation recently visited Pakistan to discuss tax exemptions and toll-free procedures related to the ‘Pakistan Gas Stream Project’.
Imran Khan’s visit to Russia the first since 1999
Additionally, this will be Imran Khan‘s first trip to Russia since 1999. In March 1999, Pakistan’s then-Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, visited Moscow for the last time. Imran’s visit was announced following a report that Moscow and Islamabad are working on a plan for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit this year, according to ANI.
It was reported by The Express Tribune that Putin’s visit had been rescheduled due to a variety of reasons, including the COVID-19 outbreak.
Pakistan’s relationship with Russia has also progressed past the fierce Cold War conflicts in recent years, and the thawing of ties between Pakistan and the United States has prompted the nation to move toward Russia and China even further, reported PTI.
In April last year, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Islamabad for the first time in nearly nine years. He conveyed to Pakistani officials that Moscow is eager to assist Islamabad in any way it can.