Lavrov calls off Dhaka visit
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has cancelled his planned visit to Dhaka and said he will talk to Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen over the phone today or tomorrow.
Lavrov was supposed to be in Bangladesh from November 23 to 24 to attend a minister-level meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA).
He was scheduled to call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen.
"I can understand it. They are very busy. Their activities due to the war have increased to a large extent. Maybe for that reason, he is unable to come," Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told a few reporters after an event of the IORA at the InterContinental Hotel.
The Russian side conveyed the message to the foreign ministry that Lavrov would be unable to come.
"He [Lavrov] wants to speak with me over the phone. And I agreed," Momen said.
Instead of Lavrov, Aleksandr Mantytsky, the Russian Ambassador to Bangladesh, will represent his country in the IORA meeting.
The visit would have been the first by any Russian foreign minister to Bangladesh and was considered significant given the increased pressure on Russia, especially from the Western countries, following its invasion of Ukraine.
Russia, which supported Bangladesh during the 1971 Liberation War, has been a trusted partner.
Though trade with Russia has not gone much up, the Rooppur nuclear power plant that is being built with Russia's support and wheat imports from Russia are important aspects of bilateral relations now.
The plant's implementation has gone slow due to payment complications following sanctions imposed by the Western countries for Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Global economic strains have already caused socio-economic and even political unrest in many of the world's countries.
The UN General Assembly so far adopted three resolutions, with the majority of the 193 countries voting against Russia. Bangladesh has abstained in two votes, while favoured one on Ukraine's territorial integrity and humanitarian support to Ukraine.
Momen said Bangladesh's position on the Russia-Ukraine war is very clear.
"It is a consistent approach. We have maintained a balanced and consistent foreign policy," he said.
Russia is quite isolated because of its invasion of Russia and Lavrov's visit would have been an effort to find new friends and solidify the friendship, foreign relations analysts say.