ISLAMABAD: Russian soldiers arrived in Pakistan on Monday for third round of the joint military exercises aimed at improving bilateral ties between the two countries, the military said. This is the third exercise as part of Pak-Russia bilateral training cooperation since 2016, a statement from the Pakistan army’s media wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said, adding that the Russian army contingent will participate in Pak-Russia joint training exercise titled “Druzhba-III.” The first Pak-Russia exercise was held in Pakistan in 2016, while the second took place in Russia in 2017. Earlier, Russian officials said that the Pakistani-Russian military drills “Friendship 2018” will be held in the mountains of Pakistan from October 21 to November 4. According to the press service of the Russian Southern Military District head Vadim Astafyev, the joint drills will be held at the training range in Pakistan’s northwestern town of Pabbi. More than 70 mountain shooters from Karachay-Cherkessia will take part in the drills. The servicemen from the two countries’ armed forces will perform tasks at an altitude of 1,400 meters above sea level, Astafyev said last week. Pakistan and Russia have been holding the “Friendship” drills since 2016. In 2017, over 200 servicemen took part in the drills, which were held in the North Caucasus at an altitude of 2,300 meters above sea level. Experts in Pakistan believe that the exercises are meant to characterise and harmonise drills regarding anti-terror activities, operate methodology and skills which Pakistan army has mastered in the war on terror. Former ambassador Tajammul Altaf says that the joint army exercise is part of the rapidly evolving bilateral relations in the fields of political, economic, security, energy and military cooperation. “In a broader perspective, these exercises are taking place in the backdrop of new geopolitical and geo-economic reconfiguration of alliances,” ambassador Altaf told Daily Times on Monday.