New love affair developing between Russia and Philippines

duterte-putinRussia is ready to supply the Philippines with weapons including aircraft and submarines and hopes to become a “close friend” of the country which so far was a traditional US ally, Russia’s ambassador to the Philippines Anatolyevich Khovaev said on January 4.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has cast a shadow over the future of Philippine-US relations with angry outbursts against the former colonial power and by scaling back military ties while taking steps to boost relations with China and Russia.

Illustrating the transformation of Philippine foreign ties since Duterte took office in June last year, two Russian warships are on four-day visit to Manila this week, the first official navy-to-navy contact between the two countries.

The navy visit comes less than a month after Duterte sent his foreign and defence ministers to Moscow to discuss arms deals after a US 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.

Khovaev said Russia had a range of weapons to offer.

“We are ready to supply small arms and light weapons, some airplanes, helicopters, submarines and many, many other weapons. Sophisticated weapons. Not the second-hand ones,” Khovaev said.

Philippine officials have said Duterte is expected to visit Russia in April or May this year.