Pakistan on Tuesday became the first major nation to back 'pariah' Vladimir Putin as it signed the first new trade deal with Russia since the invasion of Ukraine, Daily Mail reported.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that his country will import about 2 million tonnes of wheat and supplies of natural gas from Russia after meeting Russian President Putin last Thursday - the day the latter launched a military attack against neighbouring Ukraine.

Imran Khan
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran KhanIANS

Imran Khan backs Russia

Despite Russia facing international isolation and a raft of sanctions crippling its economy, Khan has defended potentially pumping billions into the Kremlin's coffers, saying Pakistan's economic interests 'required it', the report said.

He said of the two-day trip: "We went there because we have to import 2 million tonnes of wheat from Russia. Secondly, we have signed agreements with them to import natural gas because Pakistan's own gas reserves are depleting."

Russian President Vladimir Putin.(photo:@KremlinRussia_E/Twitter)
Russian President Vladimir Putin.(photo:@KremlinRussia_E/Twitter)IANS

He added: "Inshallah (God willing), the time will tell that we have had great discussions."

Putin on Tuesday moved to block foreign companies pulling out of Russia and trap their cash to prop up their imploding war economy after BP and Shell pledged to sell $20 billion of joint ventures following the invasion of Ukraine.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced that a presidential order has been signed as Western countries stepped up sanctions, the ruble crashed to an all-time low and Russians queued night and day to pull cash from ATMs amid a run on the banks.

(With inputs from IANS)