PM Modi and President Putin met on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg on July 26. President Putin is due to visit India for their annual Summit in October. Russia and India held a Joint Working Group meeting at Deputy Foreign Minister level on countering global terrorism. The official release of the meeting contained the usual formulations on cooperation in preventing terrorism, tackling its ideological mainsprings, choking off its financing, combatting the phenomenon of foreign terrorist militants and coordinating action in international organizations like SCO and FATF.
In keeping with growing Russian interaction with Pakistan, particularly with its Armed Forces and intelligence agencies, Russia’s MFA issued two statements, expressing concern at terrorist activity in the runup to the elections in Pakistan (citing attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan) and support for the authorities’ measures to boost security, including Armed Forces personnel presence in campaign events and at polling stations.
The Russian external intelligence chief, Sergei Naryshkin, was in fact in Pakistan during this period, joining his counterparts from Iran, China and Pakistan in Islamabad (July 10), professedly to strategize on coordinated action to counter the dangers from the build-up of the Islamic State on Afghan territory. It is a constant refrain of Russia (supported by Iran) that the US and UK facilitate the migration of IS terrorists from Iraq and Syria to Afghanistan to pose security threats to its neighbours (Iran, Central Asia and thence to Russia). The US has naturally denied this. The Indian view has been that the IS threat in Afghanistan has been exaggerated by Pakistan for its own reasons. Some recent studies of social media chatter among militants in the region do, however, suggest that such migrations have occurred, but reliable estimates of numbers are not yet available.
July 30, 2018