The Russian embassy in New Delhi has issued a statement denying Russian media reports that suggested that the military drill between Moscow and Islamabad will open at Rattu in Gilgit-Baltistan. The embassy said the reports were “erroneous” and “mischievous”, reported The Indian Express.
The statement said, “the Russia-Pakistan anti-terror exercise is not being held and will not be held in any point of so-called ‘Azad Kashmir’ [Pakistan-occupied Kashmir] or in any other sensitive or problematic areas like Gilgit and Baltistan. The only venue of the exercise is Cherat.”
The Russian news agency, Tass, that had published the news has also made changes to the online version of their story since then. The agency’s report said that 70 Russian troops arrived at Rawalpindi on an Ilyushin Il-76 military transport plane on Friday. Lt General Asim Saleem Bajwa of the Pakistani army media wing also said, "A contingent of Russian ground forces arrived in Pakistan for the first Pak-Russian joint exercise scheduled from September 24 to October 10."
There has been a lot of speculation regarding the two-week military exercise – 'Friendship 2016' – between the countries that were once enemies during the Cold War. After the attack on the Indian Army base in Kashmir's Uri sector, there were reports suggesting that Russia had called off the drill. India believes Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed group orchestrated the attack that left 18 soldiers dead. This is the first time that the militaries of the two countries are coming together to hold a joint exercise.