Bangladesh-Russia relations won't be affected by any specific issue: Foreign ministry

Kamrul Ahsan

Foreign ministry spokesperson Seheli Sabrin has said the bilateral relations with Russia will not be affected due to a vessel or any other specific reason.

"We don't think that there will be any impact on the bilateral relations between two counties due to a vessel or any specific cause," she told a regular weekly briefing at the foreign ministry on Thursday afternoon.

The foreign ministry spokesperson said Russia called the Bangladesh ambassador and various issues were discussed there. Such a call cannot be termed as a 'summon' because the Russian vessel was not allowed to dock at Bangladesh port six weeks ago, she added.

Bangladesh ambassador Kamrul Ahsan was summoned to the Russian foreign ministry on 21 February.

The Russian government news agency TASS reports he was summoned protesting the Bangladesh government's decision not to allow Russian ships under the US sanctions to dock at Bangladesh ports.  

Russia has drawn the attention of the chief of the Bangladesh diplomatic mission as news has surfaced that Bangladesh authorities have taken a decision not to allow the Russian goods-laden vessel to dock at its port, TASS quoted the Russian foreign ministry as saying.

It added Bangladesh's step runs counter to the traditionally friendly character of bilateral relations and can have a negative effect on the prospects for the bilateral cooperation in various spheres.

Ambassador sends report to Dhaka

A report about the discussion at the foreign ministry of Russia in Moscow on 21 February has been sent to Dhaka. According to the report, Russia has expressed its concerns. Nothing about any specific ships or numbers has been discussed there. As per information available, there are 1100 Russian vessels not under US sanction.

Asked why Bangladesh has imposed a ban on 69 Russian ships under the US sanctions, Seheli Sabrin said Bangladesh is a trade dependent country. "So we have to make many decisions cautiously in the interest of our country. Our trade with the US is much bigger, nearly 80pc."