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A single issue won’t impact Dhaka-Moscow ties: Govt

Published : 24 Feb 2023 01:04 AM

Bangladesh believes that Dhaka, Moscow historic relations would not be impacted adversely due to a single issue such as the decision of not allowing US-sanctioned ships.

 "Our understanding is so good that we don’t think a single issue will adversely impact the existing friendly relations,” the foreign office spokesperson, Seheli Sabrin, said at the weekly briefing on Thursday.

She recalled Russian support during the 1971 liberation war against Pakistan and said Russia is a “tested and long term friend”.

She particularly recalled the repeated Russian vetoes for ceasefire proposals in US Security Council at the fag-end of the Liberation War, the acceptance of which would have jeopardized Bangladesh’s independence.

On February 21,  Bangladesh Ambassador Kamrul Ahsan was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

"During the conversation, we discussed the current state of Russian-Bangladeshi cooperation, a number of aspects of which are of serious concern to the Russian side. 

"In particular, they drew the attention of the head of the diplomatic mission to information about the decision of the authorities of his country to prohibit entry into their ports of Russian ships carrying cargo for Bangladesh. 

"This step does not correspond to the nature of traditionally friendly bilateral relations and may adversely affect the prospects for our cooperation in various fields," the Russian side said in a statement.

State minister for foreign affairs Md Shahriar Alam replying to a question on Wednesday at the foreign ministry said they were trying to get the details about the meeting with the ambassador.

"Bilateral meeting was also held during that time. Whenever voting and vetting was necessary in the wake of the Ukraine-Russia war, we always did it from our principled position. Another resolution is coming to the United Nations. However, we will respond tomorrow regarding yesterday's meeting," he had said.

  The spokesperson Sabrin said the matter related to Russian ship was a six-week old issue but the Bangladesh envoy was called to the Russian foreign ministry this week.

   Asked why Bangladesh banned US-sanctioned Russian ship at its ports, she said that Bangladesh preferred to maintain good relations with all the nations as “we are a trade-dependent country”.

   She said, not only Bangladesh, the sanctioned Russian ship was banned from calling ports of other countries as well.

“Our ambassador sent his report, now the foreign ministry here is analysing it,” the spokesperson said adding that after examining the report more information regarding the meeting would be disclosed.

She said Russian deputy foreign minister Rudenko Andrey Yurevich requested Dhaka to take the historical and friendly bilateral ties into consideration before taking any decision as he talked to the Bangladesh envoy.

   “He (Russian junior minister) also requested Bangladesh envoy to convey the Russian concern regarding the issue to the high ups in Dhaka," she added.

   Sabrin said the Bangladesh ambassador explained the backdrop of Dhaka’s decision to ban 69 Russian ships under western sanctions.

   The ambassador also conveyed Yurevich Dhaka’s concerns regarding current economic downfall due to pandemic and Russia-Ukraine conflict.

   Earlier, in a briefing Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on February 17 said US was  forcing neutral countries to comply with anti-Russian sanctions.

"In an attempt to do as much damage as possible to Russia, the United States is increasingly forcing neutral countries to comply with anti-Russian sanctions," she said.

"We have learned that several dozen Russian vessels have been banned from calling at the ports of Bangladesh. We know that this unfriendly step was taken by the country’s authorities not at all on their own initiative but under the threat of secondary sanctions by the United States. Here is another example of this intimidation.

"We regret that this is not the first time that Dhaka has succumbed to Washington’s relentless pressure. By giving in to outright blackmail, it risks making the future of traditionally friendly Russia-Bangladesh relations contingent on the whims of a third country pursuing its own geopolitical goals.

"We expect the leadership of Bangladesh to find the strength to assert its national interests more resolutely. 

"It is undoubtedly in their interest to develop a mutually beneficial partnership with Russia, which has come to the country’s aid more than once in different periods of its history," the spokeswoman said.