Russian warship visits PH
Russian navy vessels arrived in the Philippines on Thursday for joint exercises as part of a drive for new security ties under President Duterte’s revamped foreign policy of courting the traditional foes of Manila’s top ally, Washington.
The guided missile cruiser Varyag, accompanied by the fuel tanker ship, Pechenge, is on a four-day goodwill visit to the Philippines, the second port call by Russian warships in three months.
The visit came a month ahead of Mr. Duterte’s visit to Moscow, where he is expected to sign a defense agreement with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
The move is part of what Mr. Duterte describes as a pursuit of a constitutionally mandated “independent foreign policy.” He has made no secret of his grudge against the United States and has made befriending Russia and China the priority of his diversification drive.
Capt. Lued Lincuna, director of the Philippine Navy’s public affairs, said the Philippines hoped to learn from the Russians during training activities and demonstrations of advanced equipment and weapons systems.
The schedule includes training and sports activities with the flagship vessel of the Russian Pacific fleet, plus a Russian concert in a park.
Russian commander Capt. Alexsei Ulyanenko said the port call would make a “significant contribution” to strengthening relations and maintaining stability in the region.
Moscow wants to help Manila combat extremism and piracy, stepping up cooperation and training in areas where the Philippines has traditionally worked closely with its former colonial master, the United States.
When Mr. Duterte met Putin for the first time last year, the Philippine leader spoke at length about what he called US “hypocrisy.”
Mr. Duterte has instructed his defense minister to look into how the Philippines could acquire modern military equipment from Russia, like drones, night vision gear, sniper rifles, and even helicopters.
Lincuna said the visit by the foreign navy contributed to the sustained promotion of peace and stability, as well as the enhancement of maritime cooperation through diplomacy and camaraderie. —WITH REPORTS FROM CYNTHIA D. BALANA AND WIRES
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