The Philippines and Russia signed two military deals for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. Although no specifics were disclosed, the discussion between both countries seems to have profited Rosoboronexport.
Rosoboronexport is “the only Russian state intermediary on export / import the entire spectrum of end products, technologies and services and the military dual-purpose.”
Moscow also gifted Manila with about 5,000 Kalashnikov rifles, 5,000 steel helmets, and about one million round of ammunitions for the rifles. They also donated more than 20 trucks. The ceremony, in which the gifts were presented to the President Rodrigo Duterte, was held on board the Russian Pacific Fleet’s Udaloy-class Admiral Panteleyev.
Although the Rosoboronexport contract was not disclosed, the Philippines intends to acquire more small arms, vehicles and special equipment for disaster operations.
Duterte toured one of the five visiting Russian warships with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu during the 11th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Defence Minister’s meeting at Clark Field in Pampanga province, North of Manila.
A senior Philippine official, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, said that Manila was buying Russian weapons to diversify its equipment.
“Moscow has been offering to sell arms to us since the mid-1990s and they are willing to barter guns for bananas,” he said.
The official added that Russia was selling fighters, helicopters and submarines to the Philippines as well.
The Philippines, a promising regional partner for Russia?
Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu believes the Philippines could become a regional partner in the defense sphere.
“The leaders of our states have outlined the strategic priorities of bilateral cooperation. Active work is being conducted today to implement the agreements reached, including to further strengthen ties in the defense sphere,” Shoigu said as he and his counterpart signed an agreement on defense industry cooperation.
With the ongoing operations against the Islamic State in the Philippines, Manila could benefit from having a partner such as Russia. Fighting the Maute Group, also known as the Islamic State of Lanao, the Philippine Army could very well see advisors from Russia come to their aid.
With Duterte’s anti-American rhetoric, Moscow will most likely enhance its influence in the war-torn country and use it to sell more weapons and equipment. The fight against terrorism could be one of the key factor in strengthening the defence collaboration between Russia and the Philippines.