Pakistan India Militaries kick off historic joint drills in Russia

Pakistan India Militaries kick off historic joint drills in Russia

MOSCOW: Army contingents from Pakistan and India are taking part in a joint counter-terrorism exercise as part of multi-national war games in Russia, reported *The Times of India* link .

The war games are being held under the umbrella of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), and feature soldiers from China, Russia and other SCO countries.

The military exercise, Peace Mission 2018, kicked off at the 255 Combined Arms Range at Chebarkul in the Chelyabinsk region of Russia on Friday.

“Indian soldiers have never actively participated in a multilateral exercise that included Pakistan in the past. Troops from the two countries have, however, worked together in UN missions and operations,” an officer from the Indian army told *TOI*.

Russia has fielded 1,700 soldiers for the exercise, followed by China with 700 and India with 200 soldiers. Pakistan has also fielded a contingent.

The SCO was constituted in 2001 by China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. The group has eight full members, including India, Pakistan and Uzbekistan. Another four nations have been accorded observer status, while six others are dialogue partners.

Earlier, Pakistan and Russia reached a historic agreement allowing officers from the country’s armed forces to train in Russia. The Russians are keen to step in and fill the gap which the United States has created after halting security-related aid to Pakistan.

The deal was concluded at the end of the inaugural meeting of Russia-Pakistan Joint Military Consultative Committee in Rawalpindi. The Pakistan Army Aviation Corps has also begun receiving the Mi-35 assault helicopters it ordered from Russia back in 2015, according to reports.

Islamabad and Moscow concluded the $153 million helicopter deal during then-chief of army staff General (retd) Raheel Sharif’s visit to Russia in June 2016. A preliminary contract was signed at the Pakistan Army General Headquarters in Rawalpindi in August 2015.

*This article originally appeared in The Times of India link*