Pakistani ammunition supply to Ukraine and Moscow-Islamabad relations
Geopolitical Report ISSN 2785-2598 Volume 28 Issue 5
Author: Giuliano Bifolchi
In the context of the Ukraine conflict and the changing geopolitical scenario in Eurasia, Islamabad denied the ammunition supply to Ukraine to avoid any possible deterioration of the relations with the Russian Federation, which is actively involved in promoting the Pakistani energy and logistic markets.
- In the face of the Ukraine conflict and the Washington-Beijing confrontation, Pakistan needs to balance its foreign policy between Russia, China, and the United States.
- Since Islamabad faces internal problems represented by political opposition, widespread disappointment and the terrorist threat, Pakistan needs stable relations with prominent international actors.
- The Ukraine conflict confirms its massive influence on the Eurasian geopolitical dynamics and bilateral relations between Russia and foreign countries.
On February 16th, 2023, Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said in an interview with reporters that information about the supply of ammunition to Ukraine is not accurate since Islamabad adheres to a policy of non-intervention in military conflicts. She stressed that Islamabad exports weapons only if there are guarantees for their further transfer to third countries. According to the diplomat, this also applies to Islamabad’s position regarding the conflict in Ukraine.
Previously, on February 11th, 2023, the Indian edition of The Economic Times and other media, citing insider information, stated that Pakistan had transferred more than 10 thousand 122-mm shells for the Grad MLRS to Ukraine through ports in Cyprus and Germany.
Why does it matter?
Since the beginning of the Ukraine conflict, Pakistan has experienced internal political turmoil, which resulted in Imran Khan’s losing power and the election of a new Prime Minister. The country also faced rising terrorist attacks due to the end of the peace deal between the Pakistani Government and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.
In the international arena, Pakistan is an essential asset in Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative. Indeed, the People’s Republic of China has copiously invested in Pakistani territory to promote the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The Russian Federation ‘has courted’ Pakistan for years, especially after the beginning of the Ukraine conflict and the Western sanctions against the Kremlin.
Moscow and Islamabad increased their partnership last February 2022, when the former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan visited the Russian capital and signed a bilateral agreement that will allow Pakistan to import about 2 million tons of wheat from Russia and buy natural gas. The international community and some Western observers harshly criticised the Pakistani Prime Minister due to the agreement.
Furthermore, in September 2022, when Islamabad was facing the consequences of floods and landslides, which caused the death of more than 1,400 people, Moscow actively offered humanitarian help to Pakistan as part of the Kremlin’s foreign policy to strengthen diplomatic and economic relations with Islamabad since pivotal Pakistani role and strategic position in Southeast Asia.
In addition, in January 2023, during the 8th meeting of the Russian-Pakistani Intergovernmental Commission (IPC) on trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation, the parties reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen and expand cooperation in the areas of trade and investment, energy, communications and transport, higher education, industry, railways, financial and banking sector, customs, agriculture, science and technology, information technology.
In this context, the information of the Pakistani military support to Ukraine by providing ammunition might deteriorate Russia-Islamabad relations. At the same time, since Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch confirmed the ‘positive momentum’ of Islamabad-Washington’s relations, this information might open new opportunities in Pakistani-US cooperation.
Considering the changing geopolitical scenario in the Eurasian chessboard, especially in Central Asia and the AfPak region due to the Ukraine conflict’s consequences, US troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021, the Taliban’s rise to power in Kabul, and the rising jihadist threat represented by the Islamic State Khorasan Vilayat and other terrorist organisation, the Pakistani Government needs to balance its strategy to avoid internal turmoil and the pressure of international powers such as Russia, the United States and China.
Furthermore, a possible deterioration of Moscow-Islamabad relations might also influence the Pakistani energy and food market since the significant Russian involvement. This eventuality might allow the former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to exploit the situation by highlighting the current Government’s incapacity to maintain balanced international relations, support the local economy, and guarantee national security.
 THE INTERNATIONAL NEWS (2023) Pakistan rejects reports of sending arms to Ukraine. Link: https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/1041312-pakistan-rejects-reports-of-sending-arms-to-ukraine.
 DIPANJAN ROY CHAUDHURY, ET BUREAU (2023) Pakistan to supply arms to Ukraine via German port now, The Economic Times. Link: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/pakistan-to-supply-arms-to-ukraine-via-german-port-now/articleshow/97808726.cms.
 BBC (2022) Imran Khan ousted as Pakistan’s PM after vote. Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-61055210.
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