New Delhi/Islamabad: Russia on Friday night denied media reports that its troops would hold military exercises with Pakistani forces in Gilgit-Baltistan—a part of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Russia said the anti-terror drills will take place in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region.
The denial came as Russian troops arrived in Islamabad on Friday for the first joint military drills with Pakistani forces from Saturday. The ‘Friendship-2016’ exercises reflect growing military ties between the two countries.
“Contrary to some reports appearing in a section of the press, the Russia-Pakistan anti-terror exercise is not being held and will not be held in any point of so-called Azad Kashmir or in any other sensitive or problematic areas like Gilgit and Baltistan,” a statement by the Russian embassy in New Delhi said.
“The only venue of the exercise is Cherat,” the statement added, referring to a place in Kyber Pakhtunkhwa. Cherat lies 34 miles south-east from Peshawar.
“All reports alleging the drills taking place at the High Altitude Military School in Rattu are erroneous and mischievous,” the Russian embassy said.
Earlier, media reports from Islamabad said the exercises will take place at the Pakistani Army’s High Altitude School in Rattu in Gilgit-Baltistan.
About 200 troops from the two countries will take part in the two-week-long military drills.
“A contingent of Russian ground forces arrived in Pakistan for first ever Pak-Russian joint exercise from September 24 to October 10,” Pakistani Army spokesman Lt. Gen. Asim Bajwa tweeted, along with some photographs of the Russian and Pakistani troops.
A statement by Russia’s Southern Military Command said the drills will involve over 70 servicemen of the Southern Military Command, including the Mountain Mobile Brigade’s personnel deployed to the Karachay-Cherkessia Republic (North Caucasus), and also officers from the headquarters staff.
“The Southern Military Command’s mechanised infantry servicemen are fully equipped and have their mountain gear with them, as well as ammunition for their standard weapons,” Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency reported, citing the statement.