Russia moves closer to filling void to be left by US in PH defense sans VFA
MANILA, Philippines—The Russian government has taken steps toward filling a void in military alliance that could be left by President Rodrigo Duterte’s termination of the Philippines’ Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States, which is being questioned by several senators.
A discussion toward this end took place when Russian Ambassador to Manila Igor Khovaev on Monday (Feb. 17) paid a courtesy call to recently-appointed Armed Forces Chief of Staff Felimon Santos Jr.
The Russian Embassy, on a Facebook post, said the discussion between Khovaev and Santos “focused on the development of military and military-technical cooperation” between the Philippines and Russia.
The week started with a courtesy call of H.E. Igor Khovaev, Ambassador of the Russian Federation in Manila on the newly…
The Russian ambassador’s visit came as the AFP braced for the termination of the VFA.
The AFP, in a separate photo release, said the meeting was “an introductory courtesy call” requested by Khovaev.
The South China Morning Post reported last week that Manila and Moscow were “somewhere in the final stages” of drafting a joint military technical cooperation agreement.
This was despite Palace spokesperson Salvador Panelo’s recent statements that the Philippines would “stand on its own” and not form new alliances with other countries after the move to end the VFA with the United States.
Duterte last week ordered to send a notice of termination of the VFA to the US Embassy in Manila, making good his promise to end the security pact that had given the Philippines a blanket of protection by the United States for two decades.
The VFA, ratified by the Philippine Senate in 1999, governs the conduct of visiting American soldiers and serves as foundation for military exercises and humanitarian work involving Filipino and American troops.
Critics said the move was just part of Duterte’s original plan to pivot to China and Russia as he had been promising since 2016. Duterte pushed through with it in apparent retaliation for the cancellation of the US visa of Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, one of Duterte’s closest confidantes and his first police chief.
Edited by TSB
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