PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Friday visited a Russian warship docked in Manila, in yet another sign of Philippines’ determination to forge closer ties with Russia.
Duterte boarded the Russian destroyer Admiral Tributs, one of two Russian warships docked at Manila port, and was welcomed with Russian Navy officials and Ambassador Igor Khovaev.
“Mabuhay kayo,” Duterte said after signing the guestbook.
In Malacañang, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella welcomed Russian officials’ pronouncements that Moscow was ready to help Manila enhance its military capabilities and cooperate in the advancement of the two countries’ common interests.
“The goodwill visit by the Russian Navy will contribute to the strengthening of friendship with the Philippine Navy. It also is an indication that our maritime cooperation can further be enhanced to enable diplomacy and camaraderie,” Abella told reporters.
Last Tuesday, Admiral Tributs, a 6,930-ton Project 1155 Udaloy I-class anti-submarine warfare destroyer originally built for the Soviet Navy, and Boris Butoma, a Chilikin-class fleet replenishment oil tanker, arrived at Pier 15 of Manila’s South Harbor for a five-day goodwill visit.
The Russian navy visit comes less than a month after the President sent his foreign and defense 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 because of concerns over the rising death toll in Duterte’s war on drugs.
Amid the flagging ties between the US and Philippines under Duterte, Russia said it was willing to hold joint military exercises with the Philippines.
Abella said Thursday President Duterte was “open to joint military exercises with Russia.”