The Future of Energy Cooperation in Russia-Pakistan Relations

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The energy crisis resulting from the Russia-Ukraine war has led to concerns about source diversification in European countries. In response, Russia has sought to compensate for the severed ties with Europe by developing collaborations with new actors. In this regard, the Moscow administration has started to enhance cooperation with Asian countries in order to export its energy resources. Moscow has also revised its Afghanistan and Pakistan policies within this framework and has entered into a petroleum agreement with the Islamabad government.

It is expected that discounted Russian crude oil will reach Pakistan in the first week of June 2023. The vessel, which is stated to reach the Port of Karachi in 10 days, has been observed to have arrived at the Port of Oman. It is known that this initial shipment carried 750,000 barrels (100,000 tons) of Russian crude oil. It is also known that Pakistan Refinery Limited (PRL) will refine all the Ural crude oil imported from Russia by blending it with crude oil imported from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Aramco.[1]

In January 2023, a high-level Russian delegation consisting of officials visited Pakistan to discuss oil and gas supply. During the meeting, which involved discussions between Energy Ministers, the focus was on providing discounted petroleum and gas and exploring ways to enhance economic and trade relations. The aim was to foster the development of economic and commercial ties between the two countries.[2] Indeed, a similar visit took place in December 2022. The pursuit of enhancing cooperation through mutual visits demonstrates the significance both parties attach to the issue of energy supply.

In early 2023, Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Butto Zardari also visited Russia, emphasizing energy cooperation. It is consistently emphasized on various platforms that the strengthening of commercial and economic ties between the two countries is of great importance. Following Zardari’s visit, Maria Zakharova, the spokesperson for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated that Russian and Pakistani companies were actively working to resolve “outstanding issues” related to the supply of Russian energy resources to Pakistan.[3]

It is evident that there is a joint effort to overcome the issues of contention. However, Moscow has been facing challenges in the payment system due to its request for arrangements in national currencies or currencies of third countries that are protected from sanction risks. This aspect was also emphasized in Zaharova’s statement.[4] Consultations are being conducted to find a solution. In fact, a senior official from the Pakistan Ministry of Energy has indicated that the Chinese currency could be used for payments. In the statement, the following words were used:[5]

Pakistan will most likely pay for the price of crude oil in China’s currency. The yuan and the People’s Bank of China could play a role in the transactions.”

In the face of rising oil prices, Pakistan is taking advantage of the opportunity presented by Russia to meet its energy needs. Pakistani State Minister for Petroleum, Musadik Malik, has stated that Pakistan aims to import 35% of its total crude oil requirements from Russia.[6] In this context, Islamabad is willing to strengthen energy cooperation, enhance energy trade, and expand energy infrastructure investments. It can be said that Russia shares the same sentiments and objectives in this regard.

Moscow is eager to develop energy trade with Pakistan and Afghanistan as it redirects its energy trade towards Asia. Additionally, agreements are being made with India in this regard. In this context, it can be stated that Moscow is making efforts to establish a partnership in South Asia. It is likely that South Asia will become a major energy consumer in the coming years, and Russia may seek to develop its relations with the countries in the region based on this anticipation. At this point, the relationships and disputes among the regional countries become important factors to consider.

Furthermore, Russia may seek to expand the “Comprehensive Energy Cooperation Plan” it has agreed upon with Pakistan to include other actors in South Asia. Additionally, partnerships are being developed between Pakistan and Russia under the “Comprehensive Gas Infrastructure Plan.” The two governments have a consensus on creating a comprehensive infrastructure for sustainable gas infrastructure development and the future of the Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline Project.[7]

The “Comprehensive Energy Cooperation Plan” aims to strengthen cooperation in various development sectors, including energy, communication, and transportation. The first batch of oil shipments, expected to take place soon, is also part of this plan. Considering Russia’s energy cooperation with Afghanistan and India, there is a possibility of engaging in mechanisms for joint action in infrastructure development and comprehensive energy cooperation. However, Pakistan is more inclined towards a cooperation process involving Central Asian countries rather than India.

The statement made by Malik on May 26, 2023, aligns with this direction. Malik stated that Pakistan plans to sign a “comprehensive” energy security agreement with Central Asian countries and Russia by the end of 2023. He also mentioned that Pakistan intends to establish an energy corridor with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.[8]

In conclusion, regarding Pakistan-Russia energy cooperation, it can be understood that the Moscow administration favors a collaboration mechanism that includes Afghanistan and India, while Pakistan is more inclined to work together with Central Asian countries and the GCC. Through energy dialogues with Central Asia, Russia, and Gulf countries, the energy needs can be met while simultaneously strengthening mutual connections. It can be anticipated that energy will continue to be a driving force in Russia-Pakistan relations in the future.

[1] “Russian Crude Likely to Reach Pakistan by First Week of June”, The News,, (Date of Accession: 29.05.2023).

[2] “Russia, Pakistan Discuss Ways to Boost Energy Sector Cooperation”, Anadolu Agency,, (Date of Accession: 29.05.2023).

[3], (Date of Accession: 29.05.2023).

[4] Ibid.

[5] “Pakistan to Receive First Batch of Russian Crude Oil in June”, Mettis Global,, (Date of Accession: 29.05.2023).

[6] “Bilawal Visit to Russia: Two Countries Agree to Boost Cooperation in Diverse Sectors”, Pakistan Today,, (Date of Accession: 29.05.2023).

[7] “Pakistan, Russia Agree to Complete ‘Energy Cooperation Plan’ by March”, The Nation,, (Date of Accession: 29.05.2023).

[8] “Pakistan to Ink Energy Deal With Russia by Year-End, Aims for Energy Corridor With GCC”, Arab News,, (Date of Accession: 29.05.2023).

Şeyma KIZILAY, 2016 yılında Erciyes Üniversitesi İktisadi ve İdari Bilimler Fakültesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nden mezun olmuştur. Yüksek lisans derecesini, 2019 yılında Kırşehir Ahi Evran Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda sunduğu ‘’Uluslararası İlişkilerde Ulus İnşası Bağlamında Irak Örneği” başlıklı teziyle almıştır. Doktora eğitimine Uludağ Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda devam eden Kızılay, tez aşamasındadır. Başlıca çalışma alanları; güvenlik, terörizm, Afganistan ve Pakistan’dır. Kızılay, iyi derecede İngilizce ve orta seviyede Arapça bilmektedir.