BANGLADESH-RUSSIA BILATERAL RELATIONS

Background of the Relations

            The relation between Bangladesh-Russia is a historical one. During the War of Independence of Bangladesh, the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) stood for Bangladesh and thwarted international pressures and obstacles in the path to the creation of Bangladesh. Soviet Union was also among the first few countries to recognize the newly independent Bangladesh on January 25, 1972.

Russian Prime Minister Kosygin greeted Bangabandhu

          Immediately after the independence of Bangladesh, the USSR extended all-out support to the reconstruction efforts of the war-ravaged country. It also provided its valuable support to Bangladesh in acquiring international recognition and eventually joining the United Nations.

Bangabandhu was warmly receivedby Secretary General of the Communist PartyLeonid I. Brezhnev at the Kremlin Palace

          The historic visit of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to Moscow from 1-5 March 1972 ushered a new era of relations between the two countries. Soviet Prime MinisterHis Excellency Aleksei N. Kosygina received the Hon’ble Prime Minister of Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the airport which was also his first official visit outside South Asia since he took office in January 1972.During this visit, Bangabandhu had formal talks with His Excellency Leonid I. Brezhnev, Secretary General of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of USSR, on 2 March 1972. In this maiden visit of the Father of the Nation,an inter-governmental agreement on economic and technical cooperation, trade representation, cultural, education and scientific cooperation was signed which laid the very foundation of the bilateral relation between the two countries.

Two Prime Ministers after the signing of the Inter-Governmental Agreement

          Following the visit of the Hon’ble Prime Minister of Bangladesh BangabandhuShiekh Mujibur Rahman, the Soviet Government sent minesweepers to Bangladesh for clearing the mines and sunken ships and vessels at Chittagong Sea Port. The clearing operation which began on April 26, 1972 continued for 26 months. During this clearing operation Soviet sailor Yuri V. Redkin lost his life who was buried with full military honors in the Bangladesh Naval Academy compound. Soviet Union extended its financial and technical assistance toBangladesh in the construction and renovation of power plants at Ghorasal and Siddhirganj.

            On December 29, 1991, Bangladesh recognized Russia as a successor to the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).

Bangladesh-Russia Relation enters a New Phase

            Bangladesh and the Russian Federation always share a vision for a comprehensive, secure, and sustainable future. The cooperation has always been inclusive and has been thriving in a wide range of spheres from politics to culture. The two countries with a total population of over 300-million have lot of opportunities to work together to achieve greater prosperity and socio-economic development.

            The Government of Hon’ble Prime Minister H.E. Sheikh Hasina, immediately after assuming office in January 2009, decided to deepen and widen its engagements with the Russian Federation in a mutually beneficial manner. In line with that policy, Bangladesh Prime Minister made an official visit to the Russian Federation at the invitation of the Russian President His Excellency Vladimir Putin in January 2013. The visit of Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina in 2013 to the Russian Federation reinvigorated the bilateral relations to a new height. The two countries have inked several important bilateral instruments on different sectors, such as the construction of Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, cooperation in Law and Parliamentary affairs, education, culture, agriculture, trade, power, energy and mineral resources etc.

          The Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant Project is a milestone in the bilateral relations of the two countries. Nonetheless, Bangladesh and Russia were able to sign a Protocol in 2017 for an Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) to review the existing level of cooperation, to identify potential sectors and broaden the scope of future cooperation in prospective sectors including trade and investment, science and technology, education and research, agriculture, power and energy, food, ICT and manpower recruitment. Till now, a number of coordination meetings were held under the IGC and the authorities of two countries are constantly working together to make every effort to accelerate the achievement of existing co-operation and to take further effective measures and actions for exploring the potential sectors of future cooperation.

            Meetings between the foreign ministries of both the countries, including on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly sessions and other international organizations and fora, are regular. The visit of the Hon’ble Foreign Minister H.E. Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, M.P. at the invitation of Foreign Minister of Russia H.E. Sergey Lavrov on 28-30 April 2019 was instrumental in discussing the ways and means of consolidating bilateral relations.

          Apart from bilateral relations, the two countries are committed to working with and fostering collaboration to ensuring the promotion of sustainable development and to promote sustainable economic growth, social development and environmental protection in multilateral fora, and supporting each other in different common issues of mutual interests. Over the years Russia and Bangladesh have been holding close or similar positions on the numerous pressing issues of the international agenda, such as matters of global security, counter terrorism and mitigation of negative effects of climate change.

COOPERATION IN DIFFERENT SECTORS

Energy Cooperation between Bangladesh and Russian Federation

            Russia is now one of the potential partners of oil and gas exploration in Bangladesh. In April 2012, the Russian company “Gazprom EP International” and Bangladesh Oil & Gas Corporation “Petrobangla” signed deals for drilling of gas wells in Bangladesh. Since then Gazprom EP International has participated in design and construction of a number of wells in Bangladesh’s gas fields. The Company has designed and constructed 17 appraisals, exploration and production wells in eight fields. Recently GAZPROM signed two MOUs with the relevant departments of Bangladesh- one MoU on strategic cooperation between Petrobanglaof Bangladesh and the Public Joint Stock Company (PJSC) Gazprom and the other MoU on the development of Bhola gas fields between the Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company Ltd (Bapex) and Gazprom EP International BV. 

Construction of Nuclear Power Plant in Bangladesh

            Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM nuclear is currently helping Bangladesh in constructing a two-unit nuclear power plant with a total capacity of 2,400-megawatt at Rooppur, Bangladesh. The Government of Bangladesh is implementing the construction of Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP), the first of its kind in Bangladesh, with technical and financial assistance from the Russian Federation.

          An Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) between the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and the Government of the Russian Federation on Cooperation concerning the Construction of a Nuclear Power Plant in Bangladesh was signed on 02 November 2011. Hon’ble Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the construction works of Rooppur NPP on 02 October 2013. The first concrete for the main construction phase was poured in November 2017. The main construction of Unit-2 began in July 2018, with the pouring of the first concrete.

Planned Nuclear Power Rectors

Unit

Type

Capacity (gross)

Construction start

Operation

Rooppur 1

VVER-1200/523

1200 MWe

30 November 2017

2023

Rooppur 2

VVER-1200/523

1200 MWe

14 July 2018

2024

          The construction of the country’s first nuclear power plant is a milestone for Bangladesh which will enable Bangladesh to enter into the prestigious league of countries that are using nuclear power to produce electricity.

            The nuclear power plant will use cutting-edge technologies and follow the safety guidelines of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The IAEA supported the country in the assessment of sites and development of a radioactive waste management system for the nuclear power programme.

            The new plant will increase the country’s power production and enable it to achieve energy independence.

Cultural Cooperation

            Russia and Bangladesh are committed to expand its cultural cooperation in delivering and enriching meaningful cultural learning opportunities and to enrich the people of both the countries with rich cultural diversity and to experience a different way of life and knowledge.  Currently, cultural exchange takes place through government, civil society, Universities, electronic and print media. Russian Cultural Days were celebrated in Bangladesh (Dhaka and Chittagong) in 2014, followed by Bangladesh Cultural Days in the Russian Federation during September 2015 in three cities (Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Samara). The “Beautiful Bangladesh” photography show held both in Moscow and St. Petersburg, acquainted its visitors with the culture, historical figures and the natural beauty of Bangladesh. Bangladesh and Russia have concluded recently a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Field of Culture between the Ministry of Cultural Affairs of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation for the years 2018-2020.

Cooperation in Education Sector

            Russia and Bangladesh have a long history of fruitful cooperation in the sphere of education. Since 1972, Bangladeshi students have been receiving scholarships under the USSR/Russian State Scholarship scheme. In 2015, the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation allocated 50 full-paid scholarships for students from Bangladesh for Bachelors, Masters, Diploma specialists, PhD, and internship including short term training. So far about 6000 students have been graduated from different universities of the USSR/the Russian Federation. Ample scope of cooperation is possible in higher education sector, especially study in medical science, technical and engineering, nuclear science, geology and mining, and energy subjects. Bangladesh and Russia are currently working to sign a new intergovernmental agreement on mutual recognition and equivalence of educational documents and scientific degrees.