MOSCOW: Prime Minister Imran Khan receives guard of honour upon his arrival in Russia on a two-day official visit on Wednesday.

US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price has said that “we believe it’s the responsibility of every responsible country around the world to voice concern and to voice objection to what Putin appears to have in mind for Ukraine.”

Price was responding to a question in a press briefing on Wednesday regarding Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Russia amid Ukraine crisis.

He said that the US has already apprised Islamabad of Washington’s position on Russia’s further escalation in Ukraine and “we have briefed them on our efforts to pursue diplomacy over war.”

Price said that the US views the “partnership with a prosperous, democratic Pakistan as critical to its interests.”

“We certainly hope, when it comes to those shared interests – the aversion of a costly conflict, the aversion of a destabilising conflict, that every country around the world would make that point clearly in unambiguous language in their engagements with the Russian Federation,” he added. 

The visit of Prime Minister Imran has assumed international significance as Russia announced to launch operation in Ukraine’s Donbas region. He would be the only world leader to meet Putin face-to-face amid the unfolding crisis in Ukraine.

PM IMRAN REACHES MOSCOW: Meanwhile, the premier landed in Moscow on Wednesday for a two-day visit to push for the construction of a long-delayed, multi-billion-dollar gas pipeline to be built in collaboration with Russian companies, an official said.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov received the prime minister at the airport, while the Russian military presented a guard of honour to him.

The premier and the delegation will undergo a coronavirus test before embarking upon official engagements.

The last Pakistani premier to visit Russia was Nawaz Sharif in March 1999, while former president Asif Ali Zardari came to Moscow in 2011.

As PM Imran has already played down the timing of the visit and any effect it would have on Pakistan’s relations with the West, there is a thinking that this visit is a double-edged sword and the government must tread with caution.

National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf, however, rejected the notion about the timing of the visit.

“Yes, there is a global tension but our visit is of bilateral nature and the similar path was taken in the visit to China where economy, economic indicators and connectivity was at the heart of that tour,” he said.

Asked about Pakistan’s stance on the crisis, he said Pakistan’s message for Russia and the whole world was that it was not in any zero-sum game and there was no such [demand] from Kremlin as well.

That apparently clarifies the dust surrounding the visit but Thursday’s meeting and a joint declaration isn’t something that can be predicted.


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