MANILA: Russia has ruled out the possibility of a military alliance with the Philippines despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to end a major defense pact with the US.
Instead, Russian Ambassador to Manila Igor Khovaev said on Monday that Moscow’s aim was to build a “robust, equal partnership” with Manila.
“The goal of our common work here is not trying to contain someone or to create some sort of alliance,” he told senior Philippine defense officials and diplomats at a reception for Russian Armed Forces Day.
Early in February, the Duterte administration announced it would end a visiting forces agreement signed with Washington in 1998 that sets the terms for joint exercises with US troops in the Philippines.
According to Khovaev, Russia has no interest in further military alliances because “they provide security for a selected few member states at the expense of others.”
“The Russian Federation proceeds from the premise that security has to be indivisible. This is why we are not in the habit of entering into alliances,” he said.
“Equal partnerships” are necessary for stability and prosperity in the region, he added.
Asked if this ruled out a Russia-Philippines alliance similar to that between Manila and Washington, Khovaev said: “Yes. Our aim is to build a strong, robust partnership, not a military alliance. We have no military alliance in the Asia-Pacific region,” he told Arab News.
He also reiterated the importance of military cooperation between Russia and the Philippines, which was highlighted by President Vladimir Putin and Duterte during their meetings in Moscow in May 2017 and in Sochi in October 2019.
The two nations have organized joint military exercises, and the exchange of visits by Russian and Philippine navy ships in Manila and Vladivostok.
“But to tell you the truth, the full potential of our cooperation has yet to be explored,” Khovaev said. “It is indispensable because we have common threats and challenges, including terrorism, international drug trafficking, piracy and other kinds of transnational crime that we need to overcome together.”