Russia Bolsters Military Ties with the Philippines
Russia and the Philippines have bolstered their military relations through the signing of two individual defense pacts, as well as a sizable transfer of Russian military equipment to the Philippines. The mutual acquiescence of the deal occurred at the fourth Association of Southeast Asian Nations Defense Ministers’ Meeting.
Philippine officials told Reuters that the content of the deals was formed to diversify the Philippine’s defense portfolio and fulfill the goal of “acquiring some equipment for humanitarian assistance”. The first deal, an Agreement for Military-Technical Cooperation, was signed by the Defense Ministers of both countries. Philippine Defense Spokesman Arsenio Andolong described the document as one that “contained provisions on various areas of military and technical cooperation such as research, production support, as well as possible exchange of experts and training of personnel for joint programs”.
The second deal contracts Rosoboronexport, a Russian defense company, to provide equipment to the Philippines. Philippine officials have downplayed the binding nature of the contract, Lorenzana, specifically characterizing the Rosobornoexport contract as an indication of the future acquisition of humanitarian assistance equipment from the Russian corporation.
According to estimations from Reuters, the turnover of Russian military equipment the Philippines included “5,000 Klashnikov rifles, 5,000 steel helmets, and a million rounds of ammunition”. The turnover occurred after the two military deals were signed at a small ceremony in Manila commemorating new developments in the two country’s military relations.
Russia-Philippine military relations have increased since Duterte pivoted towards a more independent foreign policy. The Philippine President’s decision to distance his country from the United States opened the space for other partners to fill-in tactical gaps. Since Duterte’s pivot, Russia and the Philippines have signed several deals focused on broadening the spectrum of cooperation and increasing the depth of relations between the two countries.
The timing of these new developments in Russian-Philippian defense ties occurred the week before US Secretary of Defense Mattis arrived in the Philippines for a regional meeting, perhaps providing an indication of Russia’s desire to subsume an even greater share of Philippian military demand.