Amid mounting tensions between rival states India and Pakistan after the terrorist attack in Kashmir against an Indian military base in mid-September, Russia and Pakistan began their first ever joint military exercise on Saturday. The 16 days of coordinated drills not only show a warming of relations between former Cold War rivals but could exhibit an alliance shift in Asia that could produce far-reaching ramifications — even to the point of a possible World War 3 scenario — should India and Pakistan go to war.
As IHS Jane’s reported, Russia and Pakistan engaged in a joint military exercise starting September 24 in Pakistan’s northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. The drills are to extend until September 30 and will focus on mountainous warfare training and counterinsurgency tactics, according to The Times of India.
India had hoped that the Russian Federation would “show solidarity” with New Delhi after the September 18 attack on an Indian army base in Uri, Kashmir, an incident the government in New Delhi blames on Pakistan, sources told IHS Jane’s. The attack resulted in 18 army personnel being killed. Four militants were reported killed as well.
As the Inquisitr has reported, India has called for increased international sanctions against its northern rival, going so far as to accuse Islamabad of backing the militants that launched the attack. Islamabad, of course, has denied involvement and has suggested that the attack was orchestrated by fractious elements in the troubled Kashmir region.
The Kashmir border region has been one of contention between Pakistan and India since both countries became independent in 1947. They have gone to war four times in the intervening seven decades, twice primarily over disputed Kashmir.
But cooperation between Russia and Pakistan is a relatively new development. Experts, according to The Times of India, not only see the joint military exercise as a way for Russia to obtain for its troops certain fighting skills but also the opportunity to work on a more amicable relationship between Moscow and Islamabad to further strengthen Russia’s influence in southern Asia.
Not that Russia’s relationship with India is particularly poor. The two countries have themselves engaged in military exercises for eight consecutive years, including this year, in the Kamchatka region of Russia.
Still, a slight shift in alliances in the region could have an impact on India’s options, especially military, going forward. The United States has been a prominent ally for some time and could become even more important to New Delhi should Pakistan and Russia’s ties become closer. If India and Pakistan escalate their simmering hostilities into a full-fledged war, one that could draw in other nations in a World War 3 contest, a Pakistan-Russia alliance could very well prompt an India-U.S. mutual defense partnership.
Pakistan, which was once a partner of the United States in the area (and helped funnel arms and finances to Afghan rebels against the Russia-dominated Soviet Union in the near-decade-long Soviet-Afghan War from 1979-1989), has grown cold of late. This has been due to strained relations with Washington over several unauthorized drone attacks by the U.S. in Pakistan territory, the infiltration of Pakistan and the subsequent assassination of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden without coordination or prior notification of Islamabad, and the more recent accusations made by Washington that Pakistan has been and is harboring Taliban militants (that launch attacks into Afghanistan).
Moscow has quickly filled the void in Islamabad left by a now distanced Washington.
Still, military exercises are a far cry from World War 3 battles. As Inquisitr has reported, think tanks, as well as military experts, have been issuing dire warnings that the U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) are ill-prepared to fend off a belligerent Russia. Given Russia’s aggressiveness of late, where it has increased its troop strength along its western European border and along the troubled border with Ukraine, mounted hundreds of exercises and drills in the past few years, and entered into political posturing and tough rhetoric reminiscent of the Cold War that ended with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, it is not difficult to see a quick escalation of hostilities between Russia and any number of countries that could potentially entangle the United States as well. World War 3 indeed.
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