IN PHOTOS: Russian vessels visit Philippines as 2019 begins
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Vessels of the Russian Navy docked in the Philippines for a goodwill visit from Sunday to Friday, January 6 to 11.
The Russian Navy's large anti-submarine ship Admiral Pantellev, guided missile cruiser Varyag, and large sea tanker Boris Botuma kicked off their goodwill visit to the Philippines at Pier 9, South Harbor, in Manila on Sunday.
In a statement, the Philippine Navy said the visit "aims to strengthen the relationship" between them and the Russian Navy.
"It will further enhance and sustain the promotion of peace, stability, and maritime cooperation of the two countries through naval diplomacy and camaraderie," the Philippine Navy said.
The Russian embassy also said it is confident that there would be "further fruitful cooperation" between Russia and the Philippines.
"There is a certain degree of symbolism to the fact that the New Year 2019 starts with [the] current visit of the Russian Pacific Fleet Detachment to Manila. For each person, these days bring an opportunity to come up with new plans and intentions, to hope for prosperity, happiness, and well-being," said the Russian embassy in a statement.
A customary meeting procedure with a designated vessel from the Philippine Navy was first held near Corregidor Island. A welcome ceremony and port briefing were then conducted upon the arrival of the Russian Navy's vessels at South Harbor.
A Russian Navy contingent previously arrived at South Harbor on June 9, 2018, for a 5-day goodwill visit to the Philippines. The Philippine Navy had received the Russian Navy large anti-submarine ships Admiral Tributs and Admiral Vinogradov, as well as the large sea tanker Pechenga.
In October 2018, the Philippine Navy's vessel BRP Tarlac also made a historic port call to Vladivostok, Russia.
These visits come as President Rodrigo Duterte vows to move closer to China and Russia, rivals of the Philippines' long-standing ally, the United States. (READ: Despite new friends, Philippines sticks it out with U.S. in 2018)