Russia will continue to provide arms and ammunition to the Sri Lankan Army, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday during a joint press conference with his Sri Lankan counterpart Dinesh Gunawardena on bilateral military and economic cooperation.
Along with Lavrov, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells are in Sri Lanka.
On economic cooperation and the investment front, Lavrov said: “Russia knows Sri Lanka wants investment in hydrocarbon exploration and tourism. Direct contact between business communities will be promoted to meet this goal. Russia wants to increase bilateral trade with Sri Lanka from USD 400 million to USD 700 million.”
Lavrov expressed Russia’s desire to pursue the national interests of both countries through an independent policy in line with international law. “Our relations traditionally developed based on trust, respect and equality.”
The Russian foreign minister is scheduled to arrive in India on Tuesday night to attend the 2020 Raisina Dialogue, the fifth edition of the annual geopolitical and economic summit, on Wednesday.
Following the tragic events in Sri Lanka, where a series of terrorist attacks on April 21 left 321 people dead and more than 500 injured, the island nation is keen on combatting international terrorism in the region and preparing for other security challenges.
In June 2019, speaking to Sri Lankan military officials, the Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation said that Moscow was interested in developing military cooperation with Sri Lanka. The Russian Armed Forces Chief had noted that Sri Lanka is a friendly state and Russia’s reliable partner in South Asia.
The Sri Lankan Army is equipped with substantial numbers of Soviet-designed arms, artillery and armoured vehicles.” The Sri Lankan Air Force also has Russian-designed Mi-24 attack helicopters and MiG-27 ground attack aircraft. Since 2008, the Russian government has provided short military training programmes for Sri Lankan defence forces.