The fifth joint Russian-Pakistani exercise ‘Friendship-2020’ kicked off at the Tarbela special operations training ground in Pakistan, Russia’s Defense Ministry announced on Monday.
“The fifth joint Russian-Pakistani military exercise ‘Friendship-2020’ kicked off at the Tarbela special operations training ground in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Over 150 personnel from both countries took part in the opening ceremony. The event began with the hoisting of the state flags and the performance of the anthems of Pakistan and Russia by the Pakistani military orchestra,” the Ministry said in a statement.
The opening ceremony was attended by Pakistani Army Combat Training Chief Major General Nayer Nasser, Russia’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Pakistan Danila Ganich, Head of the drills on Russia’s behalf Colonel Alexander Borisenko and military attach· at Russia’s embassy Alexander Fedotov, the statement said.
The joint drills with the participation of Russian troops are taking place in Pakistan for the third time, Nasser said, stressing that Pakistan and Russia were united in their joint fight against terrorism.
The Friendship joint military drills give a possibility to strengthen relations between servicemen of both countries, the Pakistani General said.
“This is an exceptionally important event both in terms of experience and from the social viewpoint because people come here, our commandos have arrived here and they see what Pakistan is and what Pakistani citizens are and what the Pakistani psychology is. When Pakistanis come to Russia, they see that Russians are not the country they should fear because it is a peaceful country. And no one intends to attack anyone,” the Russian Ambassador said.
After the opening ceremony, the Pakistani servicemen demonstrated their Russian counterparts their small arms, optical surveillance and reconnaissance devices, military gear items, mountaineering equipment, engineering barriers and field engineer protective means. The Russian servicemen showed their special interest in video surveillance devices, scuba diver’s equipment, communications, reconnaissance and electronic warfare devices.
Special Forces from the two countries are said to participate in the two weeks long counter terrorism exercise, stated Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General in a tweet.
The Friendship-2020 drills are running at the Pakistani Army’s Tarbela special operations training ground 50 km from Islamabad and on the territory of the National Counter-Terrorism Center in Pabbi. The personnel from both countries will exchange experience and practice inter-operability in accomplishing a broad range of missions, in particular, eliminating illegal armed formations and conducting reconnaissance and search measures employing aircraft and reconnaissance technical capabilities. For the first time in the history of joint drills, the Russian and Pakistani troops will hold a night firing exercise.
‘Friendship’ joint Russian-Pakistani military drills have been held annually since 2016 alternately in each of the countries. This year, the maneuvers involve over 70 servicemen of the special operations company of the Russian 49th combined arms army stationed in the Stavropol Region in southern Russia.
In September this year, a contingent of the Pakistan armed forces participated in the opening ceremony of the multinational military exercises titled ‘Kavkaz 2020’ in the Russian city of Astrakhan.
Pakistan had also participated in a similar series of exercises called ‘Tsentr 2019’, in Russia last year. The wargames were joined by troops from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and other countries.