A Russian naval group has called at the port of Chittagong in Bangladesh for the first time in almost half a century, reported Russian government news agency TASS on Sunday.
The Pacific Fleet’s naval group comprises the large anti-submarine warfare ships Admiral Tributs and Admiral Panteleyev and the oceanic tanker Pechenga. The combat ships moored at the Chittagong port considered as the south Asian country’s main sea harbour.
As Russian Ambassador to Bangladesh Alexander Mantytskiy told TASS, last time Russian combat ships called at Bangladesh 50 years ago to carry out a unique and, unfortunately, little-known operation to clear the Chittagong port of mines.
‘At that time, the group of Russian naval ships came here actually to save the young country that gained its independence in 1971 from a humanitarian catastrophe. After the war of independence, the port’s waters were mined and also tens of vessels were sunk there,’ the ambassador said.
The Bangladeshi authorities turned to various countries with a request to help resolve the problem. Some of them agreed but for a large sum of money, which the republic lacked. It was only the Soviet Union that agreed to provide support for humanitarian reasons, the envoy said.
The mine-clearing operation lasted from April 1972 to June 1974. Over 800 Soviet Navy sailors worked hard for 26 months. A Russian naval diver died in the mine-clearing effort. However, the Soviet naval sailors accomplished their objective and Chittagong could now receive vessels from all over the world.
As Russian Honorary Consul in Chittagong Ashik Imran pointed out, now the Russian naval sailors have again called at the port and this time solely on a friendly visit.
‘This is evidence that the relations between the two states are currently at a very high level,’ he stressed.