RUSSIA has expressed readiness to help the Philippines upgrade its ill-equipped military, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
In a belated statement issued on Wednesday, the DFA said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Alexander Fomin, director of the Federal Service for Military Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) of the Russian Federation, met in Moscow on Monday.
The FSMTC is the executive body that regulates the export of Russian defense equipment and dual-use products.
It reports directly to the president but is linked to the Ministry of Defense.
Lorenzana, the DFA said, explored prospects for military and technicalcooperation between Manila and Moscow on the instruction of President Rodrigo Duterte.
This is the first-ever visit of a Philippine secretary of National Defense to Russia since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1976.
Lorenzana was warmly welcomed by Formin, noting that the visit was a good follow-up to a fruitful meeting between Duterte and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Lima, Peru last month at the sidelines of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting.
“[Fomin] emphasized that Russia is ready to cooperate and supply the Philippines with whatever it needs,” the DFA said.
It added that Fomin boasted of a wide of range of quality and reasonably priced defense products that Russia can offer the Philippines.
Citing Moscow’s successful operations in Syria, Fomin was quoted as assuring that Russia is a flexible and a responsible arms seller and that its equipment, such as attack helicopters and anti-aircraft missile systems, are of high quality.
“The two officials agreed to continue inter-agency discussions to move the cooperation forward,” the DFA said.
The Philippines is upgrading its modest defense capability and is keen on engaging Russia in military logistics, including possible procurement of defense equipment, training and technology transfer.
Duterte earlier disclosed that Russia has agreed to give the Philippines a 25-year soft loan to buy military equipment.
The military deal will allow Russia to finally have a foothold in the Philippines arms market after decades.
Russia sells military equipment and military-related equipment to a host of nations.
The Pentagon has bought a large number of Russian helicopters for use in Afghanistan.
South Korea has also purchased Russian helicopters for use in different roles.