The diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and the Soviet Union were established on January 25, 1972. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, bilateral relations with Russia are ongoing. There are an embassy of Russia in Dhaka and a consulate office in Chittagong. On the other hand, Bangladesh maintains an embassy in Moscow.
Currently, two countries share a close military, economic, political and cultural relation. On January 25 this year, the relations between two countries marked 46 years. A new era of Dhaka-Moscow alliance has been dawned with the signing of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant collaboration agreement.
The relations date back to the days of our War of Liberation. While China cooperated with Pakistan militarily and economically and the United States was diplomatically active in support of the West Pakistani junta, Russia helped Bangladesh clinch the victory in the War of Liberation by preventing the arrival of the US Navy in the Bay of Bengal. In the wake of our independence, the Russian Navy played a special role in freeing the Chittagong Port of mines, and thus, reviving its economic activities.
In retrospect, the relations could have expanded and cooperation deepened, had the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman been not killed on August 15, 1975. The relations began to sour after the incident.
Bangladesh currently has a $5 billion arms deal with Russia. It is expected that the under-construction Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant will start generating one MW of electricity before 2020. Recently, the sovereignty of Bangladesh has been recognised in the vast area of Bay of Bengal, paving the way for harnessing an immense potential of vast marine resource. Russia has hundreds of years of experience in marine resource management. It can offer its experience and expertise to help Bangladesh.
As the government has emphasised on rail connectivity throughout the country, it will help foster the economic development. Russia is also skilled in developing and managing railways and has the expertise to offer in this regard, too.
In the gas sector, cooperation has already started. It is an area that offers immense possibilities. For Bangladesh, the market of Russia and the Eastern Europe has a huge potential. Bangladeshi exporters are yet to touch this vast area. Bangladesh's garment market, for example, can make a few billion dollar by exporting their quality products. Russia and Eastern Europe produce wheat, cotton, sugar, fertiliser, chemical and mineral items, which Bangladesh can import.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited Russia in 2013 when she met with the Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. In 2009, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had visited St. Petersburg and met with the-then Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. During the 2014 Crimea Crisis, Bangladesh adopted a neutral stance, when the United States and other Western countries were fiercely opposing Russia.
The cultural link between Russia and Bengal dates back to the eighteenth century. Aside from the political and economic diplomacy, the importance of cultural diplomacy is immensely needed in this world. Cultural contact and communications are essential to maintaining a close and warm relation between two countries.
Likewise, the friendship between Bangladesh and Russia will only be strengthened through cultural engagement. In 1972, Russia signed a cultural agreement with Bangladesh. In accordance with the agreement, Bangladesh celebrated the Russian Cultural Day in 2014. The next year it was Russia that celebrated Bangladesh's Cultural Day. The signs of the warmth in relations are already here.