Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, Nikolai Patrushev arrived in Sri Lanka today for a three-day visit where he is set to have high profiled discussions with the President and senior Sri Lankan military officials.
The secretary was warmly greeted at the airport by the Secretary of Defence, Kamal Gunaratne and Commander of the Army Shavendra Silva, both of whom stand credibly accused of committing war crimes towards the end of the armed conflict which saw tens of thousands of Tamils killed. The secretary who led a Russian delegation then called on Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The President expressed gratitude for Russia's support of Sri Lanka at UN Humans Rights Council sessions. Gotabaya went on to note that "Sri Lanka is ready to deepen bilateral cooperation in addressing extremism, terrorism, and cyber threats, including sharing of intelligence information and countering terrorist financing". The delegation is set to hold discussions on deepening bilateral security relations between the two countries. Bilateral relations between the two countries have included extensive arms sales from Russia to Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan military has been purchasing Mi-17 helicopters since at least 1993, according to a military website, with the helicopters regularly having been deployed in military offensives that have killed civilians.
In one such massacre, the Navaly church bombing of 1995 that killed over 140 Tamil civilians, survivors recalled hearing “eight explosions ring out as the helicopters flew past” on the day of the attack.
The President then thanked Patrushev for providing 5,000 doses of Sputnik COIVD-19 vaccines and for promoting tourism to the country which saw over 49,000 Russian tourists visit the island. The discussions then turned to trade where the Sri Lankan President had expressed his interest in expanding the country's export range under the Russian GSP scheme. Russian investment into the Colombo Port City and key industries such as the energy, pharmaceutical, ICT, agriculture, Infrastructure, oil and gas exploration and logistics sectors was also called for by the President. In recent months Sri Lankan government officials have explored the possibility of gas and oil exploration in the Mannar basin, as a means of financing debt repayments.
Russian Ambassador in Sri Lanka Yury Materiy, Deputy Secretaries of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Aleksander Venediktov and Oleg Khramov, Secretary to the President P.B. Jayasundera, Principal Advisor to the President Lalith Weeratunga, Foreign Secretary Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage and a team of Russian diplomats were also present at the meeting.