Russia wants joint ‘war games’ with PH navy
The Russian Navy wants to hold maritime drills with the Philippine Navy to help combat terrorism and piracy, sending two of its warships to Manila as President Duterte moves to bolster ties, including a possible weapons deal.
The Admiral Tributs, an antisubmarine vessel, and a sea tanker, the Boris Butoma, arrived in Manila on Tuesday for a four-day goodwill visit, with its crew expected to demonstrate antiterrorism capability and hold talks, said Rear Adm. Eduard Mikhailov, deputy commander of the Flotilla of Russian Navy Pacific Fleet.
“Our governments will maybe discuss in some period of time the possibilities of our maritime exercises,” Mikhailov told a news conference through an interpreter, adding the Russian Navy has been holding drills with the Indonesian Navy.
Mikhailov said the Russian Navy could demonstrate its capabilities, as it did in Indonesia in October and November last year, during which Russia showed a large number of maritime equipment.
“Of course, everybody has a choice. You can choose … to cooperate with United States of America or to cooperate with Russia, but from our side we can help you in every way that you need,” he said.
Fighting terrorism, piracy
Mikhailov said they wanted to help train Philippine counterparts to fight piracy and terrorism and they hope to foster stronger security in the region.
“The biggest problem now in the world is terrorism and piracy, and all our exercises we have, for example, with you we will have to fight these problems and we will show you what we can do and we will see what you can do and show us,” he added as the Russian Navy showcased the warships.
The Philippines has been struggling to prevent Moro bandits from abducting crew of slow-moving tugboats and foreigners sailing on yachts in the southern maritime borders with Indonesia and Malaysia.
The Abu Sayyaf, a small but violent group that has had links with al-Qaida and has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State jihadi group, is holding a German tourist and more than 10 Malaysian and Indonesian crewmen.
A Dutch and a Japanese are also being held captive.
The Russian vessels are docked at Pier 15, Manila South Harbor.
Third Russian visit
This week’s visit will include meetings between naval officials, as well as the opening of the ships to the public and Russian tours of historical places in Manila and Cavite province.
This is the third such Russian visit to the Philippines but is the first under Mr. Duterte’s administration.
Russian ships also made trips to the Philippines in 2012 and in 2016.
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