Russian Ambassador to Bangladesh Alexander Mantytskiy today said they are against any "illegal" actions - sanctions or any steps - which can be taken by America or other western countries against a country.
"We are against any illegal actions here. We will be against any sanctions or steps here (in Bangladesh). Let's see what happens," he said while speaking at a programme, "Talks with Ambassador," at Jatiya Press Club in Dhaka.
Jatiya Press Club General Secretary Shyamal Dutta, Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ) Joint Secretary Khairul Alam, among others, spoke at the programme hosted by Swadhinata Sangbadik Forum. Bangla Tribune Diplomatic Correspondent Sheikh Shahriar Zaman moderated the session.
The ambassador hoped that nothing like sanctions would happen here. "You are asking what can be done by Russia but we do not know what can take place," he commented.
Ambassador Mantytskiy said that Russia does not recognize unilateral sanctions imposed by the west. "We recognize sanctions only imposed by the Security Council."
He said that discussions on what kind of assistance can be provided to Bangladesh will happen if such problems arise.
Asked whether the US is interfering in Bangladesh's internal affairs centering the upcoming general election, the envoy replied in the positive.
He referred to Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, who during a weekly briefing on November 22 said that Russia has spoken repeatedly about the attempts by the United States and its allies to influence the internal political process in Bangladesh, ostensibly under the banner of ensuring "transparency and inclusiveness" in the upcoming parliamentary election.
Quoting her further, the Russian envoy said, "On our part, we have no doubts regarding the ability of the Bangladeshi authorities to hold the parliamentary election scheduled for January 7, 2024, in full compliance with national legislation, independently, without the help of overseas well-wishers."
In 2022, Russian JSC "Glavkosmos" and Bangladesh Satellite Company Ltd signed a memorandum of cooperation in the field of promotion of products and services of the Russian space industry in Bangladesh, including manufacturing and launch of Bangabandhu-2 earth observation satellite system.
"The project's technical parameters have been finalized. The commercial offer for the same is on the table," said the ambassador.
He said it is on the table of the government of Bangladesh and it is now up to them to decide.
In early November 2023, a detachment of warships of the Russian Pacific Fleet made a goodwill call at the port of Chattogram to strengthen naval partnership in the Asia-Pacific region.
Asked whether there was any hidden message regarding the issue, the ambassador said it was a friendly call.
"It is up to you to decide how you see it, but it was a goodwill visit," said the Russian envoy.
Talking about economic cooperation, the envoy said that Bangladesh is Russia's second largest trade partner in South Asia after India.
Even the COVID-19 pandemic did not hinder it; in 2021, trade volume reached the historic height of $2.97 billion, he said.
The ambassador said in 2022, western countries imposed "illegal" unilateral sanctions against Russia. "The subsequent breach of production and logistics chains led to a setback in Russian trade with foreign partners, including Bangladesh, which resulted in the trade turnover decrease by $640 million."
Russian companies are ready to supply on G2G basis up to 1 million tons of grain, as well as 500,000 tons of potassium chloride per year, he said.
The ambassador said, Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant will make a considerable contribution to Bangladesh's economic development and energy security.
"Russia's engagement is not limited to building the facility; we will assist our Bangladeshi partners throughout the entire life cycle of the nuclear project, including our obligations for the long-term deliveries of reactor fuel, plant maintenance, and handling nuclear waste. Russia is helping to create an entire nuclear sector, a peaceful atom industry in Bangladesh," he said.
The envoy said the full potential of trade and investment cooperation is yet to be fully tapped. "Now the situation is changing: from 2022, many international brands have decided to leave Russia. So, Russian business circles are reorienting towards new suppliers, including those from Bangladesh. Investments, both state and private, can amount to billions of dollars."
He said Russian companies are ready to participate in various joint projects in Bangladesh, in sectors such as ICT, pharmaceuticals, space and geological research, maritime, railway and air transport.
"All these topics are planned to be discussed at the 5th meeting of the Russia-Bangladesh Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation, which we plan to hold in 2024 in the face-to-face format," the Russian ambassador said.
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