MANILA: In a bid to boost the capabilities of the Philippines’ military, Russia said on Wednesday that it will supply the country’s armed forces with brand new, state-of-the-art weapons and equipment. The move follows a reaffirmation by both countries to strengthen defense cooperation in order to contribute toward lasting peace and stability in the region.
“We are ready to supply sophisticated arms and weapons in order to improve the capabilities of the Philippines’ armed forces. We are open to joint training sessions, joint drills and military exercises,” Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev told Arab News at a reception held for the opening of the Office of the Russian Defense Attaché in Manila on Tuesday.
“We offer advanced defense equipment. And if we say that we are ready and want to help your country, to improve your defense capabilities, it means in particular that we are ready to supply sophisticated arms and weapons,” he said.
Recently, Khovaev and the head of Russia’s state arms exporter, Alexander Mikheyev, met with the Philippines’ president, Rodrigo Duterte, in Malacañang where they discussed prospects for defense cooperation, especially in combating religious extremism.
“Russia suffered a lot from terrorism. So we know very well what it means. We have a lot of experience and we are ready to share our experience with our partners and friends,” Khovaev said. “We are ready to use all ways and means in order to strengthen military defense ties between our two countries. “It is in the strategic national interest of both Russians and Filipinos.”
During the reception, Khovaev introduced Col. Dmitry Nikitin, the first Russian defense attaché to the Philippines.
It marks the first time in more than 40 years of Philippines and Russian bilateral relations that Moscow has designated a resident defense attaché to Manila, and follows the deployment of Manila’s first defense attaché to Russia in May last year.
“It was a very meaningful event because it opens up new horizons for bilateral cooperation, particularly in the most sensitive field of defense and national security,” Khovaev said.
“Russia is extending the hand of help to our Philippine partners in mutual defense and security. So it really shows that we are ready to become a reliable partner and close friend for Filipinos,” he added.
“We are now living in a world where all of us depend on each other. No country, big or small, is able to ensure its security and defense on its own simply because the current challenges and threats are transboundary.”
Philippines Defense Undersecretary Raymundo Elefante welcomed the development saying that he is optimistic about stronger military ties between the Manila and Moscow.
“It will be a long journey but I think this relationship will be a very good opportunity,” he said.