The News International reported on Wednesday that Ukrainian Foreign Ministry Dmitry Kuleba “will make an emergency visit to Pakistan this week” to ostensibly discuss the food crisis ahead of the grain deal’s impending expiry next week. Such a pretext isn’t typically grounds for a high-level visit on short notice, let alone by the top diplomat of a country engaged in active hostilities. Those talks could be conducted remotely, which is why there’s likely another reason behind his upcoming trip.
Reports have circulated over the past year alleging that Pakistan has secretly armed Ukraine via a UK-led air bridge through third countries, which Islamabad denies though there are grounds for considering those claims to be credible. First and foremost, it’s a “Major Non-NATO Ally” whose incumbent authorities and their powerful military-intelligence patrons have pulled out all the stops to improve ties with the US since deposing former Prime Minister Imran Khan during April 2022’s post-modern coup.
Understanding the matter better
The NATO-Russian “race of logistics”/”war of attrition” that Secretary General Stoltenberg finally acknowledged in mid-February is trending towards Russia’s favor as proven by its gradual on-the-ground gains since the start of the year as well as the failure of Kiev’sNATO–backedcounteroffensive thus far. Biden even admitted in an interview with CNN that the only reason why he authorized the shipment of cluster munitions to Ukraine is because they’re “running out” of ammo and “we’re low on it” too.
Even though France, Germany, and the US announced more arms for Ukraine over the past week, rapidly depleting stockpiles can’t be replenished fast enough to indefinitely sustain the pace, scale, and scope of this aid, which will likely lead to the resumption of peace talks by year’s end as explained here. Prior to then, NATO still wants to keep Kiev’s counteroffensive going until winter, which is why it’s desperately seeking arms on an emergency basis from all its allies across the world.
This includes South Korea, which has been the subject of mixed reports regarding whether or not it’ll agree to indirectly arm Ukraine, and Pakistan. Those two countries have enormous stockpiles that can help fuel Kiev’s NATO-backed counteroffensive over the next couple of months, which is what Kuleba will likely try to tap into even more than Kiev is already suspected of doing during his reportedly planned “emergency visit” to Pakistan.
Islamabad is predicted to comply with his presumably NATO-approved requests due to how beholden it’s since become to the IMF after finally reaching an agreement on disbursing the rest of that Western-controlled group’s promised aid. Time Magazine just published a piece about “Why a $3 Billion IMF Loan Isn’t Enough to Save Pakistan’s Economy”, which suggests in this larger context that Pakistan has no choice but to do whatever the West demands of it since they’ll continue to control its purse strings.
Circumstantial evidence of this patron-proxy relationship already being in effect can be seen from the Express Tribune’s report on Wednesday about how “Potential Pak-Russia oil deal runs into hitches”, which was coincidentally published the day before The News International’s one about Kuleba’s visit. The first-mentioned cited unnamed sources to throw cold water on the high hopes over the past year that Pakistan and Russia might reach a long-term oil deal.
This doesn’t automatically mean that such an agreement won’t happen, but just that the signal being sent is that the odds are increasingly unlikely due to an alleged pricing dispute and supposedly unsatisfactory returns from refining this particular fuel. In spite of these reported “hitches”, it’s still in Pakistan’s interests to clinch a long-term oil deal with Russia in order to relieve some of the financial pressure upon its heavily burdened budget since all alternative sources are more expensive.
Nevertheless, by having its sources inform the media that observers shouldn’t get their hopes up about this happening, Pakistan is signaling that it can now suddenly afford to pay higher prices for this resource. This insight in turn suggests that one of the undisclosed terms of the Western-controlled IMF’s deal could have been that these funds can’t be used for purchasing Russian oil, hence why Islamabad is now looking for a “publicly plausible” way to back out of its over-year-long talks with Moscow about this.
The way forward
After all, the timing of this report shortly after Biden’s candid admission that the US is “low on [ammo]” and the day before the report about Kuleba’s “emergency visit” to Pakistan immediately following the end of this week’s NATO Summit is highly suspicious, which is why it all appears connected. Should that be the case, then it might very well be that more financial aid to Pakistan is informally conditional on it scuttling a long-term oil deal with Russia and drastically scaling up its indirect arms exports to Kiev.
The second part of these speculative demands would naturally entail the finalization of a related deal over the terms of these “emergency” shipments, ergo the reportedly planned talks between Pakistan and its literal NATO “ally’s” Ukrainian proxy at the Foreign Minister level within the next few days. Kuleba wouldn’t waste his time traveling to Pakistan just to talk about agricultural cooperation when these discussions could be conducted remotely while he holds in-person talks with other countries over arms.
The official explanation for his potentially upcoming visit clearly doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, which is why there are reasons to believe that the real purpose would be to finalize the terms of an “emergency” arms deal with Pakistan in order to keep Kiev’s counteroffensive going until winter. NATO urgently needs others to send Kiev more military aid after this de facto New Cold War bloc already ran through its stockpiles, which is the role that Pakistan has arguably been appointed to play in its proxy war on Russia.
Andrew Korybko is a Moscow-based American political analyst, radio host, and regular contributor to several online outlets. He specializes in Russian affairs and geopolitics, specifically the US strategy in Eurasia. The article has been republished and the views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.