Friendship with Russia

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    PRESIDENT Duterte’s recent visit to Russia, however short, has resulted in several developments that augur well for the benefit of the Filipino people.

    Officials from both countries are following up on the implementation of the agreements on the purchase of modern arms and war equipment for the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

    Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has announced that the package of military goodies offered by Russia includes transport and attack helicopters, fighter aircraft, war ships, military drones and tanks, as well as Kilo-class submarines. Russia is also interested in establishing a small weapons production hub in the country.

    For years, the United States and its allies Canada and Israel have cornered the country’s business in the area of military hardware, and it is a whiff of fresh air that we are now turning to both Russia and China as reliable sources of these materials.

    More important than the lecture on international relations and the acceptance of an honorary doctorate from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations was Duterte’s person-to-person encounter with Russian President Vladimir Putin when they witnessed the signing of agreements on culture, health and basic research.

    This engagement has led to a new level of trust and respect that the Russian leader now bestows on President Duterte. Russian Ambassador to Manila Igor Khovaev is most happy to announce that President Putin will visit the Philippines “as soon as possible.”

    Khovaev said Putin has accepted with gratitude the invitation of President Duterte for him to visit Manila. The envoy could not yet announce a date, but expressed hope that the historic visit — the first by a Russian leader to the country– would happen soon.

    The Russian ambassador has reiterated his country’s commitment to help the Philippines in various fields, including strengthening its defense capabilities. He also mentioned about lending Russian modern technology on oil exploration and development.

    New developments in the country’s relations with China and Russia tend to confirm that President Duterte’s much touted “independent foreign policy” that veers away from decades-old dependence on the United States is working quite well.

    This despite the taunts, jeers and brickbats from Duterte’s usual detractors.

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