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Energy and Afghanistan Factor in Russia-Pakistan Rapprochement

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Russia and Pakistan are two country which are in different parts of Asia continent. Between this the country there is Central Asian region and Afghanistan. The relations of these states date back to the times when Pakistan gained its independence. While Soviet Union carry out energy projects, it also developed agricultural issues in Pakistan. But relationship between these two countries interrupted during Soviet Union`s intervention to Afghanistan.

Also we can say that close relationship between India and Soviet Union also bothered Pakistan. While world shaping again in the period after 1990, relationship between Russia and Pakistan affected from that. Since that date, Russia has developed a strategy of becoming a rising power again and has focused on using the legacy of relations from the Soviet Union. However, Russia`s relationship between India and Pakistan`s relation between West slowed the rapprochement between the parties. But after the period of the 2015, It can be said that relations developed on the Islamabad-Moscow line during the process of Pakistan’s rapprochement with China.[1]

With that one of the factors which is affecting bilateral relations between them is Russia – Ukraine war. As known, when Russia moved away from the European market, it turned to the Asian market. This situation made the countries in need of energy valuable in the eyes of Moscow. Because Pakistan also comes to the fore with its need for energy due to the various projects it has realized, including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and its increasing population. As a matter of fact, it is known that some steps were taken to develop cooperation on energy between the parties before the war. But after the war, this process accelerated.

As we can remember in the year of 2015, Moscow and Islamabad agreed to build the 1,100-kilometer pipeline needed to deliver imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) to power stations in Punjab Province. However, this project was interrupted by the sanctions imposed by the West; There have been new developments in the recent past.[2]

Putin`s that offer came to agenda later. Because Russia which is focusing the Asia market with the reason of Russia- Ukraine war, trying to break the effect of sanctions and increase its economic gains. At this point Pakistan is an important market for Russia. Because 46% of the energy in the country is imported. It is also known that need for energy will continue to raise. When we consider that 25% of the country has difficulties in accessing energy, Pakistan’s energy need and market potential can be seen more clearly.[3] Therefore, thanks to the strengthening of the relations between the parties, Russia gained a new market and Pakistan had the opportunity to reach cheap energy.

As a matter of fact, on 19 January 2023, Russian Energy Minister Nikolay Shulginov visited Islamabad with his delegation. Discounted oil and natural gas exports to Pakistan were at the forefront of the issues discussed during the visit. In this context, the aim of developing mutual economic and commercial relations was also discussed. On 29 January 2023, Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawel Bhutto Zardari visited Moscow at the invitation of his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov. It is thought that energy will be an important topic during the two-day visit.[4]

For Russia geographical connection`s other aim which, will build with Pakistan through Central Asia- Afghanistan, is to being able to send energy to India.[5] After the Ukraine War, New Delhi became one of Moscow’s most important customers in energy. The energy to be sent to India at the least cost is in the interests of both New Delhi and Moscow. During this period also Islamabad administration will acquire new economic gain. Also it will be easy to Implementation of Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) and Trans-Afghan Transport Corridor.

Establishing the geographical connection between Russia and Pakistan is possible only with a line that will pass through Central Asia and Afghanistan. The lines in Central Asia will serve to transport Russian gas up to a point. However, the section in Afghanistan creates an important gap. That is why we can be foreseen that two strategies will be on the agenda: Either a natural gas pipeline from Central Asia to Pakistan will be built as soon as possible or transportation will be carried out by tankers. The construction of the pipeline requires a long time frame. Transport by tankers is a more costly method.

One of the most important issue about resolution of the said obstacle is the establishment of an environment of peace and stability in Afghanistan. Russia and Pakistan supported US withdrawal from Afghanistan. But raising terrorism threat in the region bothering countries. Although Russia is relatively far from Afghanistan, it may be affected by regional security threats due to the security of the projects to be developed at the point of establishing a geographical connection with Pakistan and building a power line.

As a result while Afghanistan becoming important center for Russia and Pakistan on the north-south route, this situation will raise possibility of determining common policies and strategies against Afghanistan from Moscow and Islamabad. Also the fact that Russia`s sending energy to Pakistan and India through Afghanistan will affect win-win dynamics positively. Because both Pakistan and India will try to cheap energy which Russia`s offer. Of course, at this point, the purpose of Russia’s “gas union” offer to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan is better understood.


[1] “Pakistan-Russia Relations”, Embassy of Pakistan, Moscow, http://parepmoscow.com/en/pakistan-russia-relations/, (Date of Accession: 30.01.2023).

[2] “Putin Says Pipeline Gas Supplies to Pakistan are Possible, Part of Infrastructure in Place”, Reuters, https://www.reuters.com/world/putin-says-pipeline-gas-supplies-pakistan-are-possible-part-infrastructure-place-2022-09-15/, (Date of Accession: 30.01.2023).

[3] “Pakistan’s Reliance on Energy Imports Due to Lack of Investment in Domestic Exploration – ADB”, Arab News, https://www.arabnews.pk/d%C3%BC%C4%9F%C3%BCm/2221231/pakistan, (Date of Accession: 30.01.2023).

[4] Syed Irfan Raza-Anwar Iqbal, “Bilawal Lands in Moscow on Two-Day Official Visit”, DAWN, https://www.dawn.com/news/1734335, (Date of Accession: 30.01.2023).

[5] M.K. Bhadrakumar, “Russia’s Gas Union Eyes Pakistan, India”, News Click, https://www.newsclick.in/russias-gas-union-eyes-pakistan-india, (Date of Accession: 30.01.2023).

Dr. Emrah KAYA
Dr. Emrah KAYA
ANKASAM Dış Politika Uzmanı Dr. Emrah Kaya, Akdeniz Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nden mezundur. Yüksek lisans derecesini 2014 yılında Süleyman Demirel Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nde hazırladığı “Latin Amerika'da Sol Liderlerin Yükselişi ve Uluslararası Politikaya Etkisi: Venezuela-Bolivya Örneği” başlıklı teziyle almıştır. Kaya, doktora derecesini de 2022 yılında aynı üniversitede hazırladığı "Terörle Mücadelede Müzakere Yöntemi: ETA-FARC-LTTE-PKK" başlıklı teziyle elde etmiştir. İyi derecede İngilizce bilen Kaya'nın başlıca çalışma alanları; Orta Asya, Latin Amerika, terörizm ve barış süreçleridir.