Bangladesh-Russia fifty-two years of diplomatic bondage

January 25, 2024, marks the remarkable milestone of 52 years of diplomatic relations between Dhaka and Moscow. Over the decades, these two nations have cultivated a strong and enduring partnership, fostering cooperation in various fields and contributing to regional and global stability.

The diplomatic relationship between Bangladesh and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was officially established on January 25, 1972, shortly after Bangladesh gained independence from Pakistan. Since then, the two nations have consistently worked towards strengthening their ties based on mutual respect, shared interests, and a commitment to peace and development.

Commenting on the existing cordial relations between Dhaka and Moscow, Ambassador of Russia to Bangladesh, Alexander Mantytskiy said: “Meaningful interaction between our countries predates the formal establishment of diplomatic ties in January 1972 as the USSR largely supported the Bengali people in the international arena during the ongoing War for Independence in 1971. Since then, over the span of more than 50 years, our bilateral history has seen many remarkable events and significant achievements, as well as glorious memories. The strong historic legacy and mutual affection between Russian and Bangladeshi people serve as a solid basis for new accomplishments and shared dreams”.

He further said, “Despite the current turbulence in international affairs, fruitful cooperation between Moscow and Dhaka has been developing across many sectors. In 2023, Russian-Bangladeshi relations saw a number of milestones, such as the first ever visit of the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Bangladesh in September, the nuclear fuel delivery ceremony at the Rooppur NPP in October, with virtual presence of President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina; a goodwill visit of the Russian Pacific Fleet to the port of Chattogram in November. Russia makes a significant contribution to Bangladesh food security, being one of the key suppliers of various agro-industrial products, primarily wheat and fertilizers. In 2023, Russia’s grain export to Bangladesh amounted to 2.7 million tons”.

With the 12th parliamentary elections in Bangladesh held on January 7, Ambassador Mantytskiy expressed optimism about the continued flourishing of ties between Moscow and Dhaka under the newly elected government. He expressed his hope for the collaboration to bring peace and prosperity to the people of both nations.

Ambassador Alexander Mantytskiy reflected on the recent achievements and milestones in the Russia-Bangladesh bilateral relations. “The strong historic legacy and mutual affection between our countries’ people serve as a solid basis for new accomplishments and shared dreams”, remarked Ambassador Mantytskiy. The celebration also acknowledged the valuable contributions of the Soviet Navy in clearing the Chittagong Port of mines and sunken ships during 1972-1974, highlighting the longstanding friendship between the nations.

Key milestones of Dhaka-Moscow relations

The formalization of diplomatic ties on January 25, 1972 laid the foundation for a multifaceted relationship. This period saw both nations keen on fostering cooperation in areas such as trade, education, and cultural exchange.

Over the years, Bangladesh and Russia have engaged in robust economic cooperation, with trade relations steadily expanding. Collaborative efforts in sectors such as energy, agriculture, and technology have been instrumental in driving economic growth in both countries.

Cultural diplomacy has played a pivotal role in strengthening people-to-people ties. Various cultural exchange programs, including art exhibitions, music festivals, and educational initiatives, have fostered a better understanding of each other’s rich heritage and traditions.

Both nations have cooperated closely in matters of defense and security. The exchange of military delegations, joint training programs, and the sale of defense equipment have contributed to the enhancement of each other’s defense capabilities.

Bangladesh and Russia have collaborated in the field of science and technology, leading to joint research projects and knowledge-sharing initiatives. This collaboration has contributed to advancements in various scientific disciplines, benefitting both nations.

Dhaka and Moscow have often found common ground on international issues, supporting each other in various forums. Their collaboration in global organizations, including the United Nations, has demonstrated a shared commitment to addressing global challenges such as climate change, terrorism, and public health crises.

As Bangladesh and Russia celebrate 52 years of diplomatic relations, there is a sense of optimism about the future of this enduring partnership. Both nations continue to explore new avenues for collaboration, including expanding trade ties, enhancing cultural exchanges, and deepening cooperation in emerging fields such as renewable energy and digital technology.

Importance of people-to-people relations

People-to-people relations between Bangladesh and Russia play a crucial role in strengthening the overall bilateral ties between the two nations. The significance of these relations extends beyond political and economic collaborations, encompassing cultural, social, and individual connections. Here are several reasons why people-to-people relations are extremely important in the context of Bangladesh and Russia:

Cultural understanding: People-to-people relations foster a deeper understanding of each other’s cultures, traditions, and ways of life. This cultural exchange helps break down stereotypes, build empathy, and promote mutual respect.

Enhanced diplomacy: Strong connections at the individual level often translate into enhanced diplomatic relations. Positive interactions between citizens create a foundation of trust, making it easier for governments to collaborate on various issues.

Educational exchange: Educational and academic exchanges between Bangladesh and Russia allow students and professionals to learn from each other’s educational systems and experiences. This exchange of knowledge contributes to the development of both nations.

Tourism and hospitality: Positive people-to-people relations can significantly boost tourism. As citizens from one country visit the other, they contribute to the local economy, share experiences, and create lasting impressions that can have a positive impact on the overall perception of each country.

Business and trade: Personal relationships often serve as a foundation for business connections. When individuals from Bangladesh and Russia establish trust through people-to-people relations, it can facilitate smoother business transactions and promote trade and investment between the two nations.

Language and communication: Language is a powerful tool in building connections. People-to-people relations facilitate language exchange, helping individuals from both countries to communicate effectively. Language proficiency can remove barriers and contribute to stronger ties at various levels.

Crisis management: In times of crisis, strong people-to-people relations can play a vital role. Whether it’s during natural disasters, health emergencies, or other crises, the empathy and understanding built through personal connections can lead to more effective collaboration and support.

Civic and social engagement: Collaborative efforts at the grassroots level, such as community projects and social initiatives, can be more successful when people from both countries are actively engaged. This shared sense of responsibility and collaboration strengthens the bonds between societies.

Diversity and inclusion: People-to-people relations contribute to creating inclusive societies that appreciate diversity. Exposure to different cultures and perspectives helps build open-mindedness and acceptance, fostering an environment where people from diverse backgrounds can coexist harmoniously.

Global citizenship: Strong people-to-people relations contribute to the development of a sense of global citizenship. Individuals who have positive connections with people from other parts of the world are more likely to embrace a global perspective and work towards shared goals on the international stage.

People-to-people relations between Bangladesh and Russia are essential because they form the backbone of a comprehensive and enduring partnership. These connections promote understanding, trust, and collaboration at various levels, ultimately contributing to a more resilient and harmonious global community.

Role of media

The media in both Bangladesh and Russia can play a pivotal role in further strengthening the existing cordial relations between Dhaka and Moscow. The media serves as a powerful tool for shaping public opinion, fostering cultural understanding, and facilitating communication between nations. Here are several ways in which the media can contribute to enhancing the relationship between Bangladesh and Russia:

Media outlets in both countries can actively promote cultural exchange by showcasing the arts, traditions, and daily life of each nation. This can include features on music, literature, cuisine, and other cultural aspects, fostering a deeper appreciation for each other’s heritage.

Media can play a role in promoting economic collaboration by highlighting successful business partnerships, investment opportunities, and trade initiatives between Bangladesh and Russia. Business-focused news and features can create awareness and encourage further economic cooperation.

Language is a key element in understanding and building relationships. Media can contribute by promoting language learning programs, providing content in multiple languages, and facilitating better communication between the people of Bangladesh and Russia.

Establishing news exchange programs between media outlets of both countries can provide a more nuanced and balanced view of each other’s perspectives on regional and global issues. This can reduce misunderstandings and contribute to a more informed public.

Media can support educational initiatives by featuring stories on academic collaborations, student exchanges, and research partnerships between institutions in Bangladesh and Russia. This can encourage more students and professionals to explore educational opportunities in each other’s countries.

Media can play a role in promoting tourism by showcasing the natural beauty, historical sites, and cultural attractions of both Bangladesh and Russia. Travel features, documentaries, and promotional campaigns can attract tourists and create a positive image of each destination.

In-depth and objective coverage of diplomatic events, visits by officials, and policy decisions can provide citizens with a better understanding of the political landscape in both countries. This transparency helps build trust and confidence in the diplomatic process.

Utilizing social media platforms can enhance people-to-people interactions. Media outlets can engage audiences through social media by sharing content, organizing virtual events, and facilitating discussions that bring citizens from both countries closer together.

Media can draw attention to shared challenges faced by Bangladesh and Russia, such as climate change, public health issues, or security concerns. By focusing on collaborative solutions, the media can foster a sense of solidarity and shared responsibility.

Coverage of sports events, joint collaborations in the entertainment industry, and participation in international competitions can create a shared sense of pride and celebration. These activities contribute to positive perceptions and a sense of camaraderie.

By actively participating in these initiatives, media outlets in Bangladesh and Russia can contribute to the creation of a positive narrative that strengthens the ties between the two nations. Through informed reporting, cultural exchange, and collaborative projects, the media can act as a bridge, connecting the people of Dhaka and Moscow in a meaningful and impactful way.

In a rapidly changing global landscape, the diplomatic bonds between Bangladesh and Russia serve as a testament to the importance of fostering international partnerships based on mutual respect and shared aspirations. As the two nations look ahead, the next phase of our diplomatic journey promises to bring even greater prosperity and collaboration for the benefit of our peoples and the global community. It is essential to say – with the span of time – Russia has already been proven as a time-tested friend of Bangladesh – a friend in need. Our bondages shall continue to deepen in the decades to come.

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