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Friday, May 17, 2024

Pakistan, Russia “Special Forces” exercises enter second week

Pakistani and Russian joint military exercise DRUZHBA-V continue into their second week, evidence of deepening military cooperation between the two countries as US gets closer to India.

The joint military exercises of the “Special Forces” of Pakistan and Russia (SSG & Russian SOF) entered into their second week on Monday, with commandos from both countries taking part in games related to counter-terror operations, rescue missions, and other drills and procedures. The commando exercises, named DRUZHBA-V, are being held at Tarbela, not very far from the capital Islamabad and garrison town of Rawalpindi.

Director-General (DG) Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Babar Iftikhar on Sunday shared a two-minute long video clip that showed the Russian soldiers taking part in hostage rescue, cordon and search operations, heli rappelling, and sky diving, along with commandos from Pakistan Armed Forces. The video was shared on social networking platform Twitter from the official handle of DG ISPR.

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Druzhbha Exercises between Russia & Pakistan

Pakistan and Russia have been hosting the joint military exercise of their respective special forces, the Special Services Group (SSG) from Pakistan and Special Operations Forces (SOF) from Russia, annually since 2016. In September 2020, this cooperation further increased when a contingent from Pakistan Army had participated in the “Kavkaz 2020 War Games” held in the Russian city of Astrakhan. The aim of these joint drills are to improve coordination between the two militaries. This in military terms is called, “Interoperability” so these exercises are building trust and interoperability between Russia and Pakistan.

Changing dynamics of world politics this decade have resulted in changes to many previous alliances. The rise of China has led to the United States getting closer to India. Russia, a long-time defense partner of India, has watched these developments with increased suspicion, and deepened cooperation with Pakistan in many sectors, including the military, to maintain the strategic balance in South Asia and the wider world.

Security experts have pointed to the improved bilateral relations between Pakistan and Russia over the past few years as the main reason behind the improved military ties between the two countries. Pakistan and Russia were often on the opposing ends of conflicts during the Cold War, with Pakistan allying with the United States. Islamabad and Moscow also came to direct blows when Russia invaded Afghanistan in the 1979.

In September this year, as Pakistani forces participated in Kavkaz 2020, Indian soldiers were missing from the war games, perhaps because of the presence of Pakistan and China. India has, over the past few months, expressed that it fears a two front-war with China and Pakistan. Chinese forces, in reaction to the illegal annexation of occupied Kashmir by Delhi, recently gained control of thousands of square kilometers of territory that India claims.

Read more: A timeline of fighting in disputed Nagorno-Karabakh

SSG of Pakistan & SOF of Russia

The SSG of the Pakistan Army is responsible for carrying out all special operations in the country, including foreign internal defense, direction action, counter-terror ops, and unconventional warfare. In the wake of the increased terror incidents in Pakistan after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the SSG have gained prominence nationwide. Former president General (r) Pervez Musharraf was from the SSG.

SOF are the Russian equivalent of the SSG, and operate under the Special Operations Forces Command of the Russian army. According to military experts, these forces are a strategic-level unit tasked with carrying out elite operations and other complex missions. These forces played a key role in the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, leading to global outcry over Russian ambitions in the wider European region.

GVS News Desk