Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa paid an official visit to Ukraine in recent days. During this visit COAS met with Ukrainian top Civilian and Military leadership including Ukrainian Prime Minister Shmyhal Denys, Deputy Prime Minister Uruskyi Oleh, Defense Minister Taran Andrii, Chief of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Lieutenant General Serhii Korniichuk, Army Commander Lieutenant General Oleksandr Syrskyi and Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Avakov Arsen. COAS General Bajwa held in depth discussions with Ukrainian leadership on matters of mutual interest, regional security situation including recent developments in Afghan Peace Process and enhanced bilateral and defence cooperation in various fields. Both nations agreed to further optimize military to military ties particularly in defence production, training, counter terrorism, and intelligence realms. The Chief of Army Staff briefly explained the Ukrainian leaders about great importance which Pakistan attaches to its bilateral relations with Ukraine and expressed hope that both nations would develop meaningful and long-term relationship through enhanced cooperation. On other hand, Ukrainian top leadership appreciated Pakistan’s contributions for conflict prevention in the region, especially the Afghan Peace Process and reiterated Ukraine’s desire for enhancing bilateral cooperation in all domains. After independence of Ukraine, both countries established bilateral relations in 1992. The defense procurement and cooperation remained a major area of bilateral relations of the two nations. Pakistan had purchased multiple military hardware including T-80 UD Main Battle Tanks, 6-TD2 Engines for Al-Khalid tank, spares, and other equipment from Ukraine over the last three decades. Pakistan Heavy Industry Taxila (HIT) and Ukrainian Defence Giant Ukrspecexport signed an agreement of worth US $500 million for modernization of Pakistani tank force in 2009. Ukraine also provided Naval and Air defence equipment to Pakistan in the past. Ukraine is a major exporter of defense equipment and a hub to former Soviet era defense technology. Several Countries including China and Pakistan are big importers of Ukrainian military hardware including helicopter, tanks, radars, aircraft engines, trainers etc. Pakistan remained eager to diversify its war machinery and to end dependency on a single producer/manufacturer and Ukraine provided a best option to fulfill Pakistan’s growing defence needs.
The recent visit of COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa was also aimed at strengthening defense ties with European State. COAS reiterated Pakistan keenness to enhance defence cooperation with Ukraine on the basis of Transfer of Technology and Joint ventures in future as both sides can benefit from each other’s experience.
Other than defense cooperation, the bilateral trade between Pakistan and Ukraine during 2020 was about US $ 411. 814 million including Pakistan export US $ 81 million and imports US $ 332 million. Pakistan’s major imports were defence equipment, machinery, food products and vegetables whereas Pakistan exports were rice, cotton, nuts, textiles, and fruits.
Pakistan and Ukraine have many things in common, both are developing countries with weak economies, large Militaries due to external threats, increasing poverty and agricultural economies. However, Ukraine has an inherited large industrial base, well-established defence and Space industry of former Soviet Union era. Pakistan can benefit from Ukrainian latest technology and technical expertise both in civil and military domains. The recent visit of COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa has paved the path for bilateral strategic partnership between the two nations, hopefully Pak-Ukrainian friendship will flourish in coming years.