MANILA, Philippines – The Russian Navy is ready to help the Philippines improve its fight against terrorism and piracy, a senior Russian naval officer said on Tuesday, January 3.
Russian Navy Pacific Deputy Commander Rear Admiral Eduard Mikhailov made the statement in a media interview at the South Harbor in Manila, where two Russian Navy warships arrived Tuesday morning for a 4-day goodwill visit.
Anti-submarine ship Admiral Tributs and Sea Tanker Boris Butoma called at the harbor’s Pier 15.
Asked whether Russia will help boost the naval capabilities of the Philippines, Mikhailov said through an interpreter, “Yes, of course we will do our best from our side to help you.”
He added: “One of the main problem is the terrorist and piracy. Also this problem here takes place in the Russian Federation. And we have very good experience to fight with it. In the future, maybe future exercises will…take to you our knowledges in this problem. How to solve…the piracy and terrorism.”
Russian warships had docked on occasion in the Philippines, but it would be the first time for Russian naval officers to have a series of interactions with their Filipino counterparts.
Mikhailov said that from January 3 to 7, Russian naval officers will meet with their local counterparts.
“Our visit will end with a maritime exercises which we have a maneuver at sea with the vessel of your Navy,” he said.
Asked about the kind of help that the Russian Navy can extend to the Philippine Navy, Mikhailov also cited a “variety of equipment” that it can show its local counterpart.
“From us, on our side, we can help you in every way which you need,” he said.
Multinational military exercises in South China Sea?
Mikhailov said Russia is “very confident that in a few years,” Russia will have joint military exercises in the South China Sea that will involve “not only Russia, Philippines, but Russia, Philippines, China, and maybe Malaysia together.”
“Because the main task is the safety in this region,” he added.
Asked whether there were joint military exercises or combat training in the offing for the two navies, Commodore Francisco Gabudao Jr said he could only talk about the current event. “It’s a goodwill visit; just merely cooperation between the two navies,” he said.
Gabudao, Commander of the Naval Combat Engineering Brigade of the Philippine Navy, said the latest visit is the third time Russian vessels called on a Philippine port for a goodwill visit. The first was in January 2012, and the second in May 2016.
The visit comes as President Rodrigo Duterte seeks to forge closer military ties with Russia, as well as China, to demonstrate a foreign policy independent of the country’s longtime ally, the United States.
At the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit in Peru in November last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin personally invited Duterte to visit Moscow during a bilateral meeting.
Duterte had earlier sent Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr to Moscow in December to hammer out details of possible cooperation.
Duterte has made pronouncements that he is considering holding joint military exercises with either Russia or China, while threatening to end the decades-long tradition of war games between the Philippines and the US. – Rappler.com