Russia not here to compete with the West : Envoy

City Desk :
Russian Ambassador to Bangladesh Alexander Mantytskiy on Tuesday said that they are proud of their country’s contribution during the early years of Bangladesh’s development, which over the decades has become a role model for the whole world.

“Today, we remain a reliable partner of Bangladesh’s progressive journey,” he told reporters at a media briefing at the Russian Embassy, reports UNB.

Responding to a question, the envoy said they are not here to compete with the Western countries but to show what they have done and what they are doing.

He also referred to what he said recently at the Jatiya Press Club and what the Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman said in Moscow.

The Russian Embassy hosted the event. The then Soviet Union supported Bangladesh’s aspiration to become an independent country and provided necessary assistance at the UN Security Council.

In January 1972, the war-torn Bangladesh appealed to the UN for help in solving the problem of its paralyzed ports.

Between 1972 and 1974, the Soviet Pacific Navy conducted a special purpose expedition to clear the Chittagong port of mines and sunken ships.

Vitaliy Gubenko and Alexander Zalutskiy, members of the Soviet Navy Special Purpose Expedition, participated in Victory Day commemorative events, visited the place where they were assigned in Chattogram, and paid tribute to Yuri Redkin.

The necessary funding to hire private ship-lifting companies was found, but contract negotiations came to no avail, said the Russian ambassador.

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Meanwhile, he said, preliminary talks on the issue were underway between Moscow and Dhaka.

On March 3, 1972, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman requested the Soviet leadership to send an expedition to restore Chittagong port’s functionality.

The response was quick, and the respective agreement was signed the same month. Notably, it didn’t entail any financial liabilities for Bangladesh, as the USSR undertook the task on purely humanitarian grounds, while other “volunteers” requested over USD 10 million for the job.

The first Soviet minesweepers came to Chittagong port on April 26, 1972.

According to Western estimates, it should have taken three to five years to complete the task.

The USSR did it in 26 months. Around 1,000 sailors under the command of Rear Admiral Sergei Zuenko lifted 26 ships, almost 2000 tons of metal scrap, and mines.

As a result, the ships with humanitarian aid and commercial cargo started anchoring at the revived port.

“It is safe to say that the mission rescued the economy of Bangladesh from the threat of total collapse and its 75 million people from hunger,” said the Russian ambassador.