Russia’s support to CPEC, should India be worried?

Russia strongly supports the project as it is crucial for Pakistan’s economy and regional connectivity.

The Dollar Business Bureau

Recently Russia came out in support of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Project even making its intentions that Moscow should try and expand the scope of the CPEC including Russia and other Soviet republics.

Though the suggestion by Moscow has not gone down well with India, Moscow is trying to warm up to Pakistan to in order to gain access into Afghanistan. And to do that it is factoring in some of Pakistan’s economic interests to win over Islamabad.

Replying to a question, Russian Ambassador to Pakistan Alexey Y Dedov said his country wants Pakistan and India to resolve all differences, including the Kashmir issue, through peaceful means.

He said Pakistan and Russia are also closely cooperating in efforts for restoration of peace in Afghanistan, Radio Pakistan reported.

Talking about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project, Dedov said Russia strongly supports the project as it is crucial for Pakistan’s economy and regional connectivity. He pointed out that CPEC is component of China’s Silk Road and his country was also working on a similar Eurasian Economic Union and China and Russia are holding discussions to merge the two projects.

Asked about North-South gas pipeline project of Pakistan, the Russian Ambassador said they are eager to realise the project at the soonest. The Ambassador said the two countries are closely cooperating in different areas but there is need to enhance the volume of bilateral trade.

Pointers to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

  • A $46 bn project being funded by China, which involves laying network of roads, railway lines connecting China’s Xinjiang in the west to the Gwadar port in Pakistan;
  • CPEC is a part of the One Road- One Belt (OROB) initiative of China intending to connect it with the European and African markets for its Chinese goods;
  • OROB is one of the grandiose Chinese plans intending to showcase China’s military strength in the region and features in the country’s Communist Party 13th Five Year Plan.

Should India be worried?

  • The road and railway networks in CPEC will be passing through PoK (Pak Occupied Kashmir) to which Delhi has objected vehemently;
  • By getting connected to the port of Gwadar in Pakistan, China could throw its weight around in the Indian Ocean.

Russia’s interest in CPEC

  • Russia is investing $2 billion to help build the North-South gas pipeline which would facilitate transporting of gas from the port city of Karachi to Lahore;
  • Russian envoy to Pakistan, Alexey Y Dedov’s recent press statements calling for a merger of Eurasian Economic Corridor (EEC) with CPEC;
  • With other major countries like UK, France and Turkey expressing interest to join the CPEC (a $51 bn project), according to analysts this could see the emergence of a possibility of Russia-China-Pakistan superpower triangle, a new association like that of BRICS.

While Russia is trying to forge its relations with Pakistan, it cannot do so by risking its relations with India. Many analysts believe Russia is trying to serve its interest by inching closer to Pakistan, however this might freeze the Moscow-Delhi relations going forward.

The Dollar Business Bureau - Dec 20, 2016 12:00 IST