PM Khan to Leave for Russia Today as Ukraine Crisis Heats Up

Imran Khan will travel to Moscow on Wednesday (today) to meet with President Vladimir Putin, the first such trip by a Pakistan prime minister in two decades, as rising tensions in eastern Ukraine heighten Western fears of a Russian invasion and a new European war.

Nawaz Sharif did visit Moscow in April 1999, months before his army chief Pervez Musharraf’s October coup. It was the first trip to Moscow ahead of Pakistan’s government in more than two decades.

The two-day visit was planned prior to the current Ukraine crisis.

In an interview published on Monday, Khan downplayed the timing of the visit and its impact on Pakistan’s relations with the West, claiming that the trip was planned “well before the arrival of the current phase of the Ukrainian crisis… I received the invitation from President Putin much earlier.”

Khan reiterated in an interview with Russia Today on Tuesday that his two-day visit for economic cooperation talks was planned prior to the current crisis.

For years, relations between Pakistan and Russia were strained because Islamabad sided with the United States during the Cold War and was designated as a Major Non-NATO Ally by Washington after US forces invaded Afghanistan in 2001.

However, relations between the US and Pakistan have deteriorated in recent years, and there has been thawing between Moscow and Islamabad, resulting in the planning of projects in the gas and energy sectors.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Pakistan in September 2021 and had talks on bilateral relations, regional and global issues.

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