The US is currently “annoyed” with Pakistan for strengthening strategic ties with Russia, though there is little instance when it is not. Although a direct message to restrict involvement has not been received from Washington, not-so-subtle hints have been aplenty. The US is hardly in a position to express its misgivings, as it has long left its Cold War politics aside and forged a new relationship with India, distancing itself from its then ally Pakistan. It cannot blame Pakistan for looking for allies when its own “friend” has gone against it.

Russia’s economic power and its geopolitical influence make it a worthy friend for Pakistan to have, while in order to achieve its financial gains, Russia is seeking new partners in Asia which paves the way for this symbiotic relationship. For far too long our hostile neighbours played a crucial role in alienating Pakistan from Russia. For decades, India has remained the largest recipient of Russian military equipment. Selling weapons remains a tenet of Russia’s foreign policy strategy and due to the country’s market share in India declining steadily for the past several years has rung alarm bells in the Kremlin. In contrast, the US-India arms deals have topped a record amount of $9 billion. This move has triggered Russia to extend an interest in Pakistan. The US should have seen it coming and not isolated Pakistan to cosy up to India.

A new era in Pak-Russian relations began in 2014 when the Kremlin removed its arms embargo against Islamabad. In 2015, Moscow agreed to sell four Mi-35M helicopters to Pakistan and welcomed Islamabad to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). From September 24 to October 10, 2016, Russia and Pakistan held their “first-ever” joint military exercises in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, leaving Indian lawmakers scrambling to figure out their next move.

In 2010, Vladimir Putin famously said, “Russia is not maintaining military cooperation with Pakistan as it takes into account the concerns of Indian partners.” How the tide has turned. Altering geopolitical realities have goaded Russian foreign policy into exploring new horizons. Indian policymakers, who dreamt to isolate Islamabad on the issue of terrorism, will have to wait a little while longer.

CPEC has indeed been a game changer, prompting India and Russia to want to join in. The final straw for the US seems to have been Moscow declaring strong support for the China-funded project and also announced its intention to link its own Eurasian Economic Union project with CPEC. Russia realises what it will lose out on if it distances itself from this project and it’s about time India does too. It is the only way to bring long-lasting peace and prosperity to the entire region.