Russia open to defense cooperation but no formal military alliance
Russia is not seeking a formal military alliance with the Philippines but rather a cooperation that will combine efforts to combat common threats, Russian ambassador to Manila Igor Khovaev said on Wednesday.
“Russia has no interest to create any alliance in the Asia Pacific region. We are against any close military alliance because security must be equal to all members of the international community not only to a selected few. That’s a fundamental view of our foreign policy,” he told reporters in a press conference aboard the anti-submarine ship Admiral Tributs.
He said that their interest was to “combine efforts with interested parties in order to effectively deal with common threats to security and sustainable development.” These threats include piracy, extremism, terrorism, and illegal drug trafficking.
“We are continuing talks with our Filipino partners to build a solid legal basis on defense cooperation,” he added.
But for a defense cooperation to materialize, there should be mutual trust between the two countries aside from a solid legal basis.
“It will take some time, but I;m sure we are on the right way now. So I believe very soon we will manage to formalize our cooperation in this,” the ambassador said.
Khovaev also favored joint military exercises, as he sees them beneficial to both countries.
“Any joint drill, that’s an opportunity to share experience, to learn (from) each other, to share practical skills, that’s very important to our common struggle against threats to security and sustainable development,” he said.
Dealing with security threats for instance, cannot be done alone, he explained. “We need to combine efforts to eradicate our planet from these threats that’s why joint exercises are really needed. It’s necessary to develop bilateral cooperation. We hope to cooperate with our Filipino partners in this field.”
Khovaev said Russia is ready to provide assistance that the Philippines needs, from staff training to equipment.
“We are ready to share our military experience. We are ready to cooperate in staff training. It’s no secret we are ready to supply the Philippines with sophisticated arms and weapons but everything will be done in full compliance with the international law,” he said.
Some of the equipment they could offer, he said, include small arms and light weapons, as well as aeroplanes, helicopters and submarines.
President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly expressed interest of establishing an alliance with Russia, as he threatens to shift from the international ties with the Philippines’ longtime ally, the United States, which has criticized his war on drugs.
Last month, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana visited Russia to meet his counterpart to explore possible enhanced defense engagement between the two countries and to check potential war materiel to be purchased. TVJ/CDG
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