A infantry unit of the Russian military participated in the first-ever joint military drills dubbed ‘Friendship—2016’, reflecting growing military ties between the two former Cold War rivals.

Significance of military drill
The joint drill is seen as another step in growing military-to-military cooperation, indicating a steady growth in bilateral relationship between the two countries, whose ties had been marred by Cold War rivalry for decades.

Reasons for growth in Russia-Pakistan Relations
Pakistan decided to broaden its foreign policy options after its relations with the U.S. deteriorated following secret CIA raid in Abbottabad that killed al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in May 2011.

Its relations with the U.S. were soured recently when U.S. lawmakers blocked funds for the sale of eight Lockheed Martin Corporation’s F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan.

Pakistan decided to look at alternative sources to purchase the aircraft including from Jordan.Over the last 15 months, the chiefs of Pakistan’s Army, Navy and Air Force travelled to Russia. The flurry of high- level bilateral exchanges resulted in the signing of a deal for the sale of four MI-35 attack helicopters to Islamabad.

The agreement, signed in Moscow in August 2015, was considered a major policy shift on part of Russia in the wake of growing strategic partnership between the U.S. and India.

After securing the helicopters deal, Pakistan is also exploring options to buy Su-35 fighter jets from Russia.