Amid the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war in Eastern Europe, it has been revealed that Islamabad has been providing weapons and ammunition to Kyiv. A report published in Riafan, an online Russian web portal, claimed that Pakistan’s Noor Khan Airbase in Rawalpindi has become a key base for the UK for transportation of military equipment for Ukrainian Army. Islamabad is supposedly part of an air bridge for supplying weapons to Ukraine. It is apparently using defense suppliers and contractors operating in foreign countries to channel these shipments to Ukraine.
Credible inputs suggest that Islamabad-based arms supplier M/s DMI Associates has been in touch with Bulgaria based firm M/s Defense Industry Group to facilitate supply of manufactured defense stores to the Ukrainian government. Separately, a Slovakia-based defense firm M/s Chemica had purportedly contacted Pak Ordinance Factories’ ammunition supplier M/s Kestral, on behalf of Ukraine’s Defence Ministry. In a related incident, it was discovered that the Ukrainian business M/s FORMAG, located in Kyiv, had contacted M/s Bluelines Cargo Pvt Ltd in Pakistan to send gloves for the Ukrainian army.
Sources claim that the Pak shipping and brokering firm ‘Project Shipping’ is expected to dispatch a consignment of arms and ammunitions including mortars, rocket launchers and artillery rounds from Karachi to Poland. In return, Islamabad has sought Ukrainian assistance for overhaul of “TV3-117VM Engines” used in Mi-17 helicopters from the Ukrainian Joint Stock Company (JSC) ‘Motor Sich,’headquartered in Zaporizhzhia, which is a strategically important enterprise of Ukraine, engaged in manufacturing of aircraft engines as well as industrial marine gas turbines. Recently, Ukrainian government had seized the control of the company citing “military necessity”.
Pakistan and Ukraine’s military ties go back nearly three decades. According to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Ukraine has supplied weapons worth nearly $1.6 billion to Pakistan till 2020. In the 1990s, Ukraine supplied 320 T-84UD tanks to Pakistan for a deal worth $600 million.
In 2021, Pakistan and Ukraine decided to deepen their military cooperation, particularly in intelligence sharing and counterterrorism operations. Pakistan awarded the Ukrainian state weapons company UkrOboronProm a deal of USD 85.6 million to upgrade T-80UD combat tanks. Besides, Ukraine and Pakistan are also in discussion about additional orders for the delivery of 6TD1 and 6TD2 engines. Islamabad has inked a deal with Kyiv for the repair of its T-80UD fleet at a cost of USD 85.6 million.
The ammunition supplies to Ukraine come at a time when Pakistan-Russia relations are ____ upswing. However, Islamabad seems out to make money off the Russia-Ukraine war by supplying much needed ammunition to Ukraine. Pakistani companies are also exploiting the ongoing conflict in maximizing their profit and expanding their operations in countries bordering Ukraine. Notably, CEO of Kestral, Liaqat Ali Beg, travelled to Poland, Romania, and Slovakia in May and June 2022.
Moscow must keep in mind that Ukraine’s relations with Pakistan are largely about weapons. Over the past few decades, Islamabad has been among the most loyal clients of Ukraine’s arms industry and now it is perhaps returning the favor.