New Delhi: After denying reports that it had shown any interest in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Russia has not only fully backed the project, but also plans to link it with its own Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) project.
According to a report, the U-turn made by Russia has alarmed Indian policymakers, who have sought to isolate Pakistan on the issue of terrorism.
CPEC, which will link Gwadar in Pakistan's restive Balochistan province to Xinjiang in China, remains a major problem for Indian foreign policy as it passes through the Gilgit-Baltistan region in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Beijing on the other hand has shown scant regard for India's concerns despite PM Narendra Modi himself having taken up the issue with Xi Jinping.
Moscow last month emphatically denied Pakistan media reports that it was looking to involve itself in CPEC, said the report. But Russia's ambassador to Pakistan has now said that Russia and Pakistan have held discussions to merge the Eurasian Economic Union project with the CPEC.
Alexey Dedov said Russia strongly supported the CPEC, as it was important for Pakistan's economy and also regional connectivity.
Strategic affairs experts say that Moscow may no longer see India as a reliable friend and partner, and is challenging India’s core interests by making common cause with its enemies in the north.
India continues to officially maintain that it doesn't see any "downward trend" in relations with Russia, said the report. But Delhi and Moscow are not seeing eye to eye on Afghanistan. While Russia wants to use the Taliban to defeat Islamic State (ISIS) in the region, India wants any engagement with Taliban to respect the internationally recognized red lines, including giving up violence and severing ties with al-Qaeda.
Earlier this year, India was disturbed by Russia's decision to hold its first ever joint military exercise with Pakistan days after Uri terror strike which left 19 Indian soldiers dead.
Then at the Brics Goa summit in October, Russia chose not to help India publicly name Pakistan-based terrorist outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in the official declaration, given Chinese resistance.
Russia continues to insist that its ties with Pakistan will not come at India's cost. However, it contends that since India moved closer to the United States over the last few years, it should not complain about Russian cooperation with Pakistan.