Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to visit Dhaka, his Bangladeshi counterpart informed

Bangladeshi Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has informed that his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov will visit Dhaka in September en route to New Delhi.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to visit Dhaka, his Bangladeshi counterpart informed

Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen confirmed to the Bangladeshi press that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is going to visit Dhaka in September for a few hours ahead of his joining the G20 summit in New Delhi on September 9th and 10th.

This will be the first visit of any Russian foreign minister to Bangladesh after its independence.

“He’ll arrive on September 7th night and leave for Delhi the next day morning. So, basically, he will stay for a few hours. It’s less than 24 hours visit”, Momen informed the press on Tuesday, August 22nd, before the BRICS summit in South Africa.

On September 8th morning, Lavrov will call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Momen said.

The Russian foreign minister was scheduled to visit Bangladesh on November 23rd 2022 to attend the 22nd Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Council of Ministers meeting, which is scheduled on November 24th.

Russia is a dialogue partner of the IORA while Bangladesh is the current chair of the group.

Ahead of the meeting, Lavrov called his counterpart Momen and expressed his regret for not being able to come to Dhaka due to “schedule complications”. However, he had expressed his intention to visit Dhaka at a later date.

Now Lavrov will visit Bangladesh at a time when the United States is keeping pressure on Dhaka as part of its global effort to isolate Russia following its special military operations in Ukraine.

Washington prevented Dhaka from paying back a part of the loan taken from Moscow for the construction of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant.

The government later decided to pay it via Beijing using Yuan and again received Washington’s objection.

The Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant is regarded as the ‘signature’ initiative between the two countries. With its inauguration, Bangladesh is soon going to enter the elite club of nuclear power.

Russia’s state-owned atomic company Rosatom is helping in the construction. This is a $12.65bn project, 90% of which is financed through a Russian loan repayable within 28 years, with a 10-year grace period.

Bangladesh has been following a non-alignment foreign policy since its inception, which has kept it a neutral player, vocal for multipolarity, in the highly polarised world, especially after Russia’s special military operations in Ukraine.

In the wake of the Ukraine conflict, the US pressure has reportedly intensified on Bangladesh to condemn Moscow, which Dhaka has evaded so far. Therefore, Dhaka’s relationship with the US is going through a turbulent phase.

The US declared a new visa policy for Bangladesh against those who would stand in the way of holding the upcoming general elections free and fair. Russia termed it as “another attempt at blatant interference in internal affairs of a sovereign state”.

Amid the hiccups in the Bangladesh-US relationship, Dhaka has applied for membership in the BRICS, which is becoming an alternative bloc to the West-led global order, primarily consisting of countries of the Global South.

During the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, the Soviet Union supported the Bengalis of erstwhile East Pakistan along with India. The US, which then supported the Pakistani regime, had threatened dire actions but had to retreat due to Soviet pressure.

Prime Minister Hasina’s Moscow visit in 2013 was the first by a head of government after 1972 when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the iconic founder of modern Bangladesh visited the Soviet Union.

After that the bilateral relationship got momentum. Both sides now have agreements for cooperation in the defence, trade and energy sectors.

Lavrov is representing Russian President Vladimir Putin at different summits, including the G20 Summit in New Delhi, due to an arrest warrant issued against the latter by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

Nineteen countries – Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the UK, and the US – and the European Union are the members of the G20, founded in 1999.

India is the current president. Bangladesh is also joining the meetings as a guest country. Hasina will also attend the summit.

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