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Published: Thu, January 05, 2017
Science | By Carlton Santiago

Russia Offers Philippines Close Friendship, Weapons

Russia Offers Philippines Close Friendship, Weapons

"So Russia is ready to become a new reliable partner and close friend of the Philippines", reported VOA News.

At the same time, from Moscow's perspective, tighter relations with Manila served as an additional hedge against China's regional influence and a way to potentially divide Washington and the government of Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, undermining United States interests in the region.

The Russian navy visit comes less than a month after Duterte sent his foreign and defence ministers to Moscow to discuss arms deals after a USA senator said he would block the sale of 26,000 assault rifles to the Philippines due to concern about a rising death toll in a war on drugs launched by Duterte.

"We're very sure that in the future we'll get such exercises with you, maybe just the maneuvering or maybe use some combat systems and so on", Mikhailov told reporters beside the docked Russian destroyer Admiral Tributs.

Aside from military drills, the country is also offering to sell a submarine, drones and sniper rifles to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Though rhetoric by both sides still significantly outpaces reality in the Philippines-Russia relationship, there have been concrete steps taken to actually follow through on this.

'NO MILITARY ALLIANCE' Accompanied by Rear Adm. Eduard Mikhailov on the deck of the Admiral Tributs, Russian ambassador Igor Khovaev was explicit in his response to repeated questions focusing on the geopolitical issues, saying that "Russia has no interest to create any military alliance in the Asia-Pacific region". I've said many times... that foreign relations aren't binary...

"For the Philippines, there is an objective need to diversify the range of the circle of your foreign partners".

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"Your traditional partners should not be concerned about the military ties ... Sophisticated weapons. Not the second-hand ones", Khovaev said.

US State Department spokesperson John Kirby said Washington acknowledges that foreign relations are not binary and a sovereign state has the right to pursue alliances with other countries.

Their activities include a maritime exercise with the Philippine Navy.

An obvious example is the goodwill visit of the two Russian warships.

"We did not have problems dealing with other countries or their vessels like that of the United States or China", Mikhailov said.

This is the third time a Russian navy vessel has visited the Philippines, the Philippine Navy said.

The Russian Ambassador said, "It's not a choice between these partners and those ones. I think the Russian Navy is open to have joint exercises with its Philippine counterparts", he concluded. "We operated on a high level of friendly cooperation".

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