Lavrov’s Visit To Bangladesh: A New Avenue In Russia-Bangladesh Bilateral Partnership – Analysis


The visit of Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Bangladesh has considerable significance as it represents the increasing prominence of Bangladesh on the global stage and the strengthening of bilateral ties between Bangladesh and Russia. Lavrov’s visit coincides with a period characterized by significant geopolitical transformations and complexities, including the war in Ukraine, the assertiveness of China, the climate emergency, and the refugee crisis.

The visit of Lavrov to Bangladesh brought attention to the possibilities and prospects for collaboration between these two nations across many domains. As an example, Lavrov articulated Russia’s inclination towards expanding its trade and investment relations with Bangladesh, particularly in sectors including agriculture, textiles, medicines, information technology, and tourism.

Additionally, an invitation was sent to Bangladesh to become a member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), a regional economic alliance under the leadership of Russia, which now includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Furthermore, Lavrov engaged in a discussion with his Bangladeshi counterpart about the potential for strengthening their collaborative efforts in addressing regional and global concerns, including the struggle against terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking, and cybercrime. They also reached a consensus to collaborate to achieve a nonviolent settlement to the Rohingya refugee problem using conversation and diplomatic efforts, as Russia is a longstanding ally of Myanmar. These efforts have the potential to provide new opportunities for cooperation and yield mutual benefits for the involved nations as well as other relevant parties within the region.

The trade volume between Bangladesh and Russia now stands at around $2 billion, a figure that falls well short of their potential economic exchange. Both nations have shown a keen desire to enhance their trade and investment relations. The visit by Lavrov presents a potential chance to delve into unexplored channels of collaboration and establish formal agreements or memoranda of understanding across many industries.

Before that, Bangladesh and Russia entered into a collaborative effort to construct the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, anticipated to be the first nuclear power facility in the South Asian region. The initiative has encountered several challenges and setbacks as a result of the global pandemic and the economic sanctions placed on Russia by Western nations. The visit of Lavrov has the potential to facilitate the resolution of these concerns and guarantee the timely accomplishment of the project, therefore enhancing Bangladesh’s energy security and fostering its economic progress.

Russia recognizes the significance of Bangladesh’s position as a responsible participant in the region as well as its involvement in many multilateral platforms, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Russia is actively pursuing military collaboration with Bangladesh, including the export of weaponry, joint military exercises, and the implementation of training initiatives. Moreover, Russia demonstrates a favorable regard for Bangladesh’s policy of non-alignment and its inclination to establish relationships with all nations based on mutual respect and advantage.

Russia recognizes the need for Bangladesh to cultivate favorable ties with other prominent global powers, including China, India, the United States, and the European Union, to safeguard its interests and foster its progress. Nonetheless, the visit of Lavrov to Bangladesh has given rise to some concerns about the next elections in Bangladesh, slated to take place in December 2023. The visit of Lavrov to Bangladesh might be seen by the United States as a potential threat to its interests and influence in the area. It may also be interpreted as an indication of Russia’s strategic efforts to cultivate alliances and enhance its leverage in Asia, particularly in light of the ongoing sanctions and tensions arising from the war in Ukraine.

China’s perspective on Lavrov’s travel to Bangladesh likely includes considerations related to regional stability and security. China values Russia’s endorsement of Bangladesh’s stance on the Rohingya refugee issue, which has had a significant impact on Bangladesh. China has shown its support for Bangladesh’s position on this matter and has expressed its willingness to facilitate dialogue between Bangladesh and Myanmar. China sees Russia as a valuable collaborator and ally in addressing this humanitarian predicament through constructive discourse and diplomatic means.

The G20 summit held in India has played a significant role in facilitating the visit of Lavrov, the Foreign Minister of Russia, and has also contributed to Russia’s assistance to Bangladesh in other aspects. The G20 summit held in New Delhi facilitated a meeting between Lavrov and his Bangladeshi counterpart, Abdul Momen, on September 7th. During this encounter, the two officials engaged in discussions about a range of topics of shared concern, including regional stability and security.

In addition, the meeting facilitated Lavrov’s opportunity to meet with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on September 8, during which he expressed Russia’s acknowledgment and endorsement of Bangladesh’s progress and accomplishments in its developmental endeavors. The visit further exemplified Russia’s commitment to ensuring the stability and security of Bangladesh, particularly in light of the next elections scheduled for December 2023. Lavrov has provided assurances to Bangladesh of Russia’s commitment to supporting a democratic electoral process characterized by freedom, fairness, and peacefulness.

The visit serves as a representation of the robust and enduring relationship between the two nations while also highlighting Russia’s proficiency and prominence in the field of nuclear technology. This observation signifies Russia’s inclination towards increasing its footprint and exerting influence in the energy sector of South Asia. Russia perceives Bangladesh as a very profitable market for its goods and services, in addition to seeing it as a strategic entry point to tap into other markets within the region. Russia is also aiming to recruit a greater number of investors and entrepreneurs from Bangladesh to bolster its economy. The visit of Lavrov has the potential to facilitate the alignment of their stances and activities on these issues while also promoting collaboration among other nations, including India, China, Pakistan, and Myanmar.

Bangladesh has always pursued a diplomatic approach characterized by pragmatism in its foreign policy, aiming to foster amicable relations with all nations while refraining from aligning itself with any one faction in conflicts or disagreements. Nevertheless, in light of the dynamic geopolitical environment and the escalating rivalry between prominent global actors, Bangladesh encounters many obstacles and strains in effectively navigating its diplomatic ties with diverse counterparts. Lavrov’s visit to Bangladesh has the potential to reinforce Bangladesh’s sovereignty and autonomy in its decision-making process while also showcasing its commitment to engaging with other nations based on mutual respect and shared advantages.

The recent visit has served to reinforce the enduring friendship and collaboration between Russia and Bangladesh, which originated during the 1971 Liberation War when the Soviet Union provided backing for Bangladesh’s quest for independence from Pakistan. Nevertheless, it is important to acknowledge that this visit may provide some obstacles and potential threats to Bangladesh’s diplomatic ties with nations that have divergent or contradictory perspectives and interests on these issues. Hence, Bangladesh must meticulously evaluate its alternatives and decisions while pursuing its foreign policy goals within a multifaceted and ever-changing geopolitical landscape.

In conclusion, Russia perceives Bangladesh as a strategic ally in the South Asian region, with the ability to serve as both an economic and military market for its interests. Russia acknowledges and values Bangladesh’s role in promoting peace and security within the region, along with its well-balanced approach to foreign policy.

Aishwarya Sanjukta Roy Proma

Aishwarya Sanjukta Roy Proma is a Research Associate at the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD). She is a research analyst in security studies. She obtained her Master's and Bachelor's in International Relations from the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *