Islamabad, 28 January 2023 (TDI): The Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will undertake an official visit to Moscow from 29-30 January. He will visit at the invitation of Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov.

Bilawal will hold official talks with his Russian counterpart, during which both sides will discuss the full range of bilateral relations and exchange perspectives on regional and international issues of mutual interest.

Purpose of visit

The visit comes as Pakistan is in talks with Russia about importing oil as the South Asian country seeks ways to meet its energy demands.

Forteinvest, a Russian independent oil refiner, recently secured a deal that will see Russian gasoline shipped to Pakistan by land for the first time.

The company has received additional requests to supply gasoline, diesel, and Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to Pakistan. Forteinvest has already sold a 1,000-tonne lot of gasoline to a trader for delivery to the country from its Orsk facility.

Also read: Pakistan, Russia to sign agreements in diverse sectors

Due to the lack of direct rail links between Russia and Pakistan, the refined goods will be transported by rail from the Orsk refinery in Russia’s Orenburg region near the Kazakhstan border to Afghanistan before being unloaded onto tank trucks for transport to Pakistan.

The move comes just days before the imposition of new Western sanctions, as the European Union (EU) works to reduce Russia’s income from oil shipments without jeopardizing global supplies.

US permits Pakistan to buy oil from Russia

Despite all, the United States (US) State Department’s spokesperson Ned Price on Tuesday reiterated that Pakistan can purchase oil from Russia at a discounted price.

Ned Price said that the South Asian country can also take advantage of the concessions Washington has given to other countries for buying oil from Russia.

Notably, on 3rd December 2022, G7 and EU countries set a price cap of $60 per barrel on Russian oil to prevent Moscow from using the revenues to finance its war against Ukraine.

Also read: G7 countries impose price cap on Russian oil

Since, Europe and the US no longer import crude oil from Russia; the controlled purchase would only affect third countries, like Pakistan. Islamabad has not yet signed the accord, mainly because Pakistan does not import oil from Russia.

It is pertinent to note that earlier this month, market observers warned that Pakistan may face fuel shortages in the near future as importers struggle to secure dollars to close deals.

Foreign exchange reserves in the country have dropped to their lowest level in nearly nine years. Purchasing oil at a discount from Russia could alleviate the pressure.