Chances of Russian President Vladimir Putin visiting Pakistan increase greatly after Gas Pipeline Deal

Earlier, the 100% pipeline was to be constructed by Russia under the ‘built, function and transfer’ model. The project will cost about $2.25 billion.

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Vladimir Putin & Imran Khan in 2019. (© Sputnik / Grigory Sysoev)

The likelihoods of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s first trip to Pakistan have improved after Islamabad and Moscow inked a recent contract last week to lay a gas pipeline from Karachi to Kasur.

The North-South Gas Pipeline, now renamed as Pakistan Steam Gas Pipeline, is a flagship project of the two nations.

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The agreement was first endorsed in 2015 but due to possible US sanctions on the Russian companies and other problems, work on the 1,122-kilometre-long pipeline could not be launched.

Nevertheless, the two sides eventually overcame the barriers and signed an amended agreement that would now grant 74% stakes in the pipeline to Pakistan.

Earlier, the 100% pipeline was to be constructed by Russia under the ‘built, function and transfer’ model. The project will cost about $2.25 billion.

Once finished, the pipeline will help solve the shortage of gas in Punjab.

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The LNG that Pakistan currently imports will be re-gasify via this proposed pipeline.

Officials familiar with the development said the project not only has economic but strategic significance for Pakistan.

It has also been revealed that Pakistan and Russia are working on the visit of Putin to Pakistan. The Prime Minister, Imran Khan, has already extended a formal invitation to the Russian president.

Nonetheless, diplomatic sources state Putin undertakes a visit when he has something significant to sell.

Pakistan, Russia sign $10bn gas pipeline deal

With the signing of the Pakistan Steam Gas Pipeline contract, the likelihood of Putin visiting Pakistan has improved significantly.

Pakistan is enthusiastic that Putin inaugurates the groundbreaking of the gas pipeline project, which may start later this year or early next year.

The possible visit of Putin will be the culmination of years of attempts by two sides to start a new chapter in their relations that were damaged by the Cold War rivalry.

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