Strategic Policy Options for Pakistan on Russia-Ukraine War


The Russia-Ukraine War has led to a fundamental shift in the system of global security. Pakistan has been forced by these geopolitical challenges to secure its security and to proactively deal with the threats by tailored defense policies to address threat perceptions emerging from regional, historical, and global context as well as self-reliance in terms of capacity, capabilities, and potential to ensure one’s sovereignty and security. Pakistan’s stance on the Russia Ukraine war remains is to remain neutral. Pakistan has clearly stated that war is not the solution to any problem and one should adopt a diplomatic attitude to handle issues. Pakistan’s leadership aims for neutrality. Critically, Pakistan- having a long history of politico-economic instability- always designed its foreign policy framework based on ideology and historical events instead of national interests. Whereas, Pakistan has taken a turn while formulating the policy determinants and adopted the strategy of independent foreign policy, seeking neutrality in the war situation instead of an alignment strategy. The war’s economic impact, including global sanctions and export restrictions, may affect Pakistan’s energy and food security. To navigate the crisis, Pakistan strives for a balanced approach, like China and India’s non-aligned stance. Improving relations with Russia while maintaining connections with China, the US, and the West is vital for Pakistan’s national interests.

The ongoing war has the potential to jolt the economy of the world. Therefore, Pakistan may adopt prospective foreign policy options such as good offices, mediation, meeting with regional organizations such as SCO and SAARC, and the role of a third party. Promoting Russia’s agenda could lead to diplomatic isolation for Pakistan, hence Pakistan takes a principled stance that supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty while advocating for peaceful resolution. Pakistan sees Russia’s action in Ukraine as an incursion and breach of international law.  The core challenge is to improve relations with Russia as Pakistan is a beneficial geostrategic location which provides Russia route – via Afghanistan. Pakistan can play constructive role for peaceful co-existence between Russia and Ukraine as it is in the basic principle of Pakistan’s foreign policy, without distancing itself from other major powers. Categorically condemning the war and promoting peaceful conflict resolution is crucial during this critical time.

A suggestive three-point formula, can be implemented “Ceasefire, negotiation, and implementation”, could be considered as a diplomatic proposition in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war. It is a need of time to urge Russia and Ukraine to opt for the ceasefire. Pakistan could play its role as a mediator in the Russia-Ukraine conflict in reaching an agreement or consensus between the parties. It will prevail the soft image of Pakistan in the international community. As Pakistan has been quite prosperous in mediating Doha Accord between the USA and the Taliban government in Afghanistan.

Considering the geopolitical scenarios in Pakistan and Ukraine whilst drawing parallels between the two nations, when it comes to external aggression these may give appropriate direction for policy options to Pakistan. Therefore, while India plays the role of the aggressor against Pakistan, Russia assumes the same role against Ukraine. This parallel sheds light on the complexities of regional conflicts and the impact of external interference.

Both Pakistan and Ukraine, historical ties play a crucial role in shaping the current conflicts. India and Pakistan have a long history of territorial disputes, mainly centered around the region of Kashmir. Similarly, Russia and Ukraine share a complex past, with territorial disputes over Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, which led to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and ultimately the ongoing war.

For policy options to be adopted from the lessons learned from the Russia Ukraine war by Pakistan include the following, the options predominantly pertain to self-sufficiency and self-reliance to ensure Pakistan’s security and sovereignty as the most reliable strategic option, whilst providing its support for a diplomatic resolution to the Russia Ukraine war.

As in particularly for Ukraine, the main causes of Ukraine’s current predicament have been revealed to be its insufficient war readiness and disarmament. The crisis has made it more important than ever for Pakistan to build its defenses and be ready for any threat from Indi. Pakistan, a nation that has already dealt with many security issues, ought to now put the advancement of its defense capabilities first priority. Because a robust military unlike Ukraine’s military, was weakened by years of neglect and corruption, making it vulnerable to Russian aggression. The war has highlighted the importance of maintaining a robust defense system to protect the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. It is crucial to invest in military modernization and training to maintain a strong defense force.

Moreover, being well equipped for unconventional warfare. The war has demonstrated the importance of having a strong military presence. Russia’s annexation of Crimea and involvement in eastern Ukraine was a hybrid war that combined conventional military tactics with non-military means such as cyberattacks, propaganda, and covert operations. Pakistan needs to be prepared for such hybrid threats and develop strategies to counter them vis a vis India.

Ukraine’s experience serves as a stark reminder of the value of self-reliant strategic projections and apt war preparedness. The lack of these critical factors has left Ukraine vulnerable to external threats and caused immense suffering for its people. As Pakistan faces its own security challenges, it must take heed of Ukraine’s example and prioritize its modernization of defense forces to counter any conventional/non-conventional threats. It is only by taking proactive measures that Pakistan can avoid any such crises and continue building a stable and prosperous future for its people.

Asma Khan
Asma Khan
Author is an Islamabad-based expert in Strategic Affairs. Student of Defense and Strategic Studies, and a M.Phil. Scholar from SPIR Quaid-I-Azam University Islamabad, Pakistan Reached at asmakhandurrani595[at] She tweets @AsmaKhan_47


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