According to independent sources, Moscow had supplied about 70 Mi-17 / Mi-171 transport helicopters to Pakistan from 1996 to 2010. At present, Pakistan has shown keen interest in high precision weapons, air defence systems, artillery and long-range guided ammunition. It is also interested in the Mi-26 large transport helicopters.
Earlier, China and the U.S. have been the key suppliers of arms to Pakistan. Russia has traditionally been the largest weapon supplier to India. Concerning the impact of possible weapons supplies to Pakistan on Russia’s relations with these countries, director of the Centre for Public and Political Studies Vladimir Evseev has this to say.
“India understands that these supplies are stipulated by extremely negative developments in Afghanistan. When the U.S. blocks the purchase of Russian weapons for the Afghan army, cooperation between Russia and Pakistan is of crucial importance. Moreover, lately, relations between Pakistan and the U.S. have improved. Consequently, very complicated situation is building up here. On the one hand, Pakistan wants to have an alternative to American weapons. On the other hand, Russia wants to strengthen its position in the region. I can’t say that Russian-Indian relations will worsen on a background against possible supply of Russian weapons to Pakistan.
Russia’s intention to increase its share in the weapons market in Pakistan will surely trigger a mixed reaction in Beijing, says expert at the Institute of the Russian Far East Pavel Kamennov.
“China will be dissatisfied, of course. However, Russia is free on the world weapons market like the U.S. and other leading arms producers. It is free in choosing its partners. It is a different story that this might please somebody and disappoint some others. It is impossible to exclude possible consultations and exchange of information to this end. The reason is that Russia and China are strategic partners. There is always a political factor in weapons trade. However, this means that the Russian leaders have considered that there is a possibility of doing so,” Kamennov said.
Possible supply of Russian weapons to Pakistan will not cause tension in the Russia-China-India-Pakistan format, says president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems Leonid Ivashov.
If Russia does not supply Pakistan with necessary weapons, then other countries, especially its opponents, will do so. Russia has no intention to give up its position on the Pakistani market when it clearly has competitive advantages.