ISLAMABAD -  Growing strategic ties between Pakistan and Russia are not being received well in Washington, informed sources said.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation on Sunday, that Washington had expressed “annoyance” over the closeness in Pak-Russia ties without giving a direct message to restrict the involvement.

Pakistan has improved ties with Russia in the recent years as the United States started to drift towards India.

During the Cold War, India was an ally of Russia, and Pakistan stood with the US.

But in the past few decades, the US and India have put the Cold War politics behind.

Although Pakistan could not afford to leave the US, it enhanced contacts with Russia to create a balance.

As part of partnership, a trilateral meeting between Pakistan, Russia and China is scheduled for December 27 (tomorrow) in Moscow to discuss regional stability and issues.

Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry will lead the Pakistani delegation in this meeting.

Foreign Office Spokesman Nafees Zakaria said that this was an existing forum for undertaking informal discussions on issues of regional peace and stability, including situation in Afghanistan.

Also this month Pakistan and Russia held “Pakistan-Russia consultations on regional issues” aimed at enhancing partnership.

The foreign ministry said that Pakistan and Russia “discussed whole range of regional issues as well as key areas of mutual interest [including economic cooperation and connectivity].”

The next round of consultations will be convened in Moscow next year.

A senior official at the foreign ministry said that Washington was upset with the promising Pak-Russia relations and Islamabad had been conveyed the message between the lines.

“They can’t of course tell us directly to shun Russia but they have tried a number of times to convey the message. We believe this partnership is not against any country,” he said.

Another official said that the US was envious of Russia’s openness to Pakistan as it wanted to pressurise Islamabad in partnership with New Delhi on the so-called terror network.

“They are surprised at our diplomatic success in Russia. They know China is already with us so it is becoming harder to push us. Our ties with Russia are not against the US, India or any other country. We have to live our life under any circumstances. The US can’t avoid us and keep us,” he added.

The official said that Pakistan and Russia were also serious in improving situation in Afghanistan.

International relations expert Dr Huma Baqai said that Pakistan-Russia friendship was indigestible for India and the US.

“India wants to isolate us and our formidable ties with China and growing relations with Russia are naturally annoying for them,” she said.

Baqai said Moscow had shown an open heart to Pakistan in the recent months.

“Russian president [Vladimir Putin] has spoken in favour of Pak-Russia ties recently, and he says it would be for the benefit of the region. We are moving forward, we should not depend solely on the US,” she said.

Defence analyst Air Marshal (retired) Shahid Latif said Pakistan’s relations with Russia were not at the cost of any other country.

“There is still promise in Pak-US ties and we can take it further. The relations with Russia are very important. Pakistan’s foreign policy cannot be dictated,” he contended.

Latif said that the partnership with Russia was moving along positively and it would benefit the region and Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Pakistan on Sunday said it was “deeply grieved and saddened” to learn about the crash of Tu-154 aircraft in the Russian Federation, which resulted in the loss of more than 90 lives, including members of the renowned Alexandrov Ensemble – the Russian armed forces’ official army choir.

“We convey our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and the friendly people and government of the Russian Federation. The people of Pakistan share their grief and stand by them as they mourn their irreparable loss,” a statement released by the foreign ministry said.