Russian Ambassador to Bangladesh Alexander Mantytskiy yesterday said his country is not here to com-pete with the western countries but closely watching what they (westerns) have done and what they are doing.
The then Soviet Union supported Bangladesh’s aspiration to become an independent country and provid-ed necessary assistance at the UN Security Council, he told reporters at a media briefing at the Russian Embassy in Dhaka.
The Russian embassy arranged the media event in honor of two members of the then Soviet Navy’s Spe-cial Purpose Expedition in Chittagong port from 1972 to 1974 – Vitaliy Gubenko and Alexander Zalutskiy, now visiting Bangladesh.
Russian envoy said the then USSR undertook the Special Purpose Expedition in 1972 to clear the Chit-tagong port from mines and sunken ships on “purely humanitarian grounds”.
“Notably, it didn’t entail any financial liabilities for Bangladesh …while other ‘volunteers’ requested over 10 million dollars for that job,”
The envoy said according to Western estimates, it should have taken from three to five years to complete the task of clearing the Chittagong port but the Soviet navy accomplished it in only 26 months.
The two valiant Soviet naval members participated in Victory Day commemorative events in Dhaka this year and also visited the place where they were assigned in Chattogram.
In January 1972, war-torn Bangladesh appealed to the UN for help in solving the problem of its para-lyzed ports but the necessary funding to hire private ship-lifting companies was not available.
On March 3, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman requested the Soviet leadership to send a mission to restore Chittagong port’s functioning while Moscow’s response was quick.
The first Soviet minesweepers came to the Chittagong port on April 26 in 1972 and in next 26 months around one thousand sailors under the command of Rear Admiral Sergei Zuenko lifted 26 ships, almost 2000 tons of metal scrap and mines.
The Russian ambassador said it is safe to say that the mission rescued the economy of Bangladesh from the threat of total collapse and its 75 million people from hunger.
While sharing the experience of Expedition of Chittagong port with the journalists Gubenko Vitaliy said they had worked hard with highest dedication and sincerity to clean the Chittagong Port of mines and submerged ships as early as possible.
That time, he said, there was a USA propaganda that Russian intention was to build a naval base at Bay of Bengal under cover of cleaning mine. But the Soviet mission at Chittagong port was undertaken only to help the economy of a newborn nation, he said.