The confusion over Russia participating in the first-ever joint military exercise with Pakistan has been cleared, with the Russian ground forces landing in Pakistan aboard an Il-76 military transport aircraft on September 23.
The joint military exercises between the two Cold War rivals will be held for two weeks from September 24 to October 10.
"A contingent of Russian ground forces arrived Pakistan for first ever Pak-Russian joint exercise," said a tweet from Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, the director-general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of the Pakistan Armed Forces.
The joint exercises, called Druzhba-2016 (Friendship-2016), will see the participation of 200 soldiers from each side.
The tactical drills are to be held in the Army High Altitude School in northern Pakistan's Rattu and at the Special Services Group's (SSG) training centre in Cherat.
These exercises are expected to strengthen and develop defence cooperation between the two armed forces.
Several Indian media outlets had claimed that Russia had cancelled the exercise with Pakistan. India is said to have appealed to the Russian side to reconsider its exercise with Pakistan, given the Indian sensitiveness and escalation of tensions. Russia is a close friend and is the largest exporter of military hardware to India.
However, Russia had assured India that the exercises were not being held in the disputed areas of the region.
"We were informed by the Russian Defence Ministry that these exercises will not be carried out in (disputed) areas, and a place was chosen that has nothing to do with this. Hence there is no reason for India to worry about it," Sputnik quoted Zamir Kabulov, Russian Foreign Ministry's director of the second Asian department, as saying on September 16.
Russia is known to be keen to improve ties with Pakistan, with the latter looking to buy military hardware. Russia recently secured a deal for four Mi-35 Hind E attack helicopters from Pakistan, which was reported to be interested in buying the advanced Su-35 fighter jets from Russia.