The Russian Ambassador to Pakistan’s interview was indeed a very informative experience that clarified Moscow’s policy towards the European security crisis and South Asia, both of which are of interest to those who closely follow the Kremlin’s grand strategy in Eurasia.
Russian Ambassador to Pakistan Danila Ganich gave a far-reaching nearly hour-long interview to PTV’s Syed Shabahat Ali on Sunday ahead of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s maiden visit to Moscow later this week. It was extremely informative and deserves to be watched in full by those who are interested in better understanding Russian policy in general, especially in the context of the undeclared US–provoked missile crisis in Europe, as well as its evolving strategy towards South Asia in particular. For those with limited time, the author has conveniently summarized the interview in the present piece.
Over half of the exchange covered Ambassador Ganich’s interpretation of the European security crisis brought about by the US’ refusal to consider Russia’s national security red lines. He explained that this is the proper way to perceive the ongoing tensions since they aren’t between Russia and Ukraine but between Russia and the US. Ambassador Ganich reaffirmed his country’s wish for the US to finally respect its security guarantee requests by legally committing to halt NATO expansion and not taking any actions putatively aimed at ensuring its own security at anyone else’s expense such as Russia’s.
He also questioned NATO’s existence after the dual dissolutions of the Warsaw Pact and the former Soviet Union that the US-led military bloc was created to contain. Describing it as an existential threat to Russia, Ambassador Ganich nevertheless promised that his country will always protect its security, including in the face of the West’s illegal sanctions. He also expressed concern about the lack of actual media freedom in the West and its propagation of wildly false narratives about Russia. Better media literacy, consulting other sources, analysing news, and considering motives can help counteract this.
The core of the current crisis can actually be traced back to the US’ political decision not to closely cooperate with Russia as an ally after the end of the Old Cold War like it did with Germany and Japan after World War II. While Ambassador Ganich said that Russians interpreted the end of that era as the victory of democracy, the US saw it as a victory over Russia. That directly led to the promulgation of the infamous Wolfowitz Doctrine for preemptively containing all potential emerging competitors to the US’ envisioned unipolar world order. This, Ambassador Ganich insisted, was strategic miscalculation.
In response to his host’s question about Russian-EU relations, he described ties as mutually beneficial but disputed the perception among some that Russia should be “grateful” to the EU for purchasing its energy since Russia in turn uses their hard currency to buy more EU products. Ambassador Ganich also expressed surprise at the EU countries’ willingness to surrender their sovereignty to the US, which he described as calling the strategic shots across the continent nowadays. Nevertheless, he expressed optimism that pragmatic interaction between both sides will continue in spite of American influence.
As for Afghanistan, the top Russian diplomat in Pakistan lamented the Soviet Union’s intervention there in 1979 as a mistake and said that no country is capable of conquering it. Even though many abroad regarded Soviet-Pakistani ties as complicated all throughout the 1980s, Ambassador Ganich surprisingly revealed that they were actually constructive and that Soviet diplomats there didn’t feel any animosity from their hosts. He also politely pushed back against his interlocutor who suggested that Russia’s sale of S-400 air defence systems to India might have created difficulties for its ties with Pakistan.
Ambassador Ganich convincingly argued that Prime Minister Khan wouldn’t be visiting Moscow if that was the case since the Pakistani leader is a very seasoned politician, an honest person, and doesn’t compromise on his principles. Pakistan, he said, understands the historic closeness of Russian-Indian relations. Ambassador Ganich also added that the improvement of Russian-Pakistani ties won’t slow down Russian-Indian ones. About that neighbouring country, he then said that it isn’t in anyone’s camp except its own and that its newfound cooperation with the US will only go as far as it’s beneficial.
Once that’s no longer the case, Ambassador Ganich remarked, India will break it off. According to him, India has always been independent and nobody can own it. This is a feature of that country. That was an important clarification since some observers, including in South Asia and the West, speculated that the recent improvement of Russian-Pakistani relations was a subtle response to the improvement of Indian-American relations. That’s clearly not the case since both pairs of relations, to say nothing of Russian-Indian ones, are independent of external influences.
Ambassador Ganich shared some more insight into Russian-Pakistani ties by revealing that they’re presently excellent and have remained positive irrespective of whichever administration was in power in Moscow or Islamabad. He declared that there’s a consensus in Russia on the need to have equal and mutually beneficial relations with Pakistan, which he then described as a great country when talking about the upcoming visit of its Prime Minister to Moscow. He also praised their cooperation for contributing to the stabilization of the very difficult situation in Afghanistan.
Nevertheless, Ambassador Ganich still believes that much more has to be done but that it’s the US’ responsibility as the former occupying power of that war-torn country, which also froze that victimized state’s funds late last year. The continued humanitarian crisis there can reverberate throughout the immediate region and beyond by manifesting itself in many ways, including through more narcotics trafficking. The stakes are therefore very high, which is why Russia and Pakistan are paying very close attention to this crisis, including through their cooperation via the Extended Troika format.
As for the future of Russian-Pakistani relations, Ambassador Ganich is very upbeat. He said that they have vast potential in almost every area, specifically textiles, surgical instruments, leather, and agricultural products. He also expects that scientific-technical potential will be discussed during the next highest-level interaction, which implied that the two leaders will talk about it later this week in Moscow. Furthermore, upon the situation settling down in Afghanistan, Ambassador Ganich said that he’s sure that lots of mutually beneficial transregional prospects in transport and energy will arise right after.
Overall, the Russian Ambassador to Pakistan’s interview was indeed a very informative experience that clarified Moscow’s policy towards the European security crisis and South Asia, both of which are of interest to those who closely follow the Kremlin’s grand strategy in Eurasia. This week’s visit by Prime Minister Khan to Moscow will be a milestone for that country’s Greater Eurasian Partnership, envisions clinching equal and mutually beneficial partnerships with all of the supercontinent’s countries. Russian-Pakistani ties might have matured late, but that doesn’t make them any less promising for both.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Voice of East.