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According to local media, Philippine Defence Minister Delfin Lorenzana said on Monday that Manila is preparing a security memorandum with Moscow which will lead to visits of military delegations and cooperation on drills.
“If we need their expertise, then we will join the exercises. That’s the framework of the memorandum of understanding that is going to be signed. It could be a joint exercises but, initially, its going to be exchange of visits,” Lorenzana told the media just a week after two Russian naval warships docked in Manila.
This was the first such port of call for Russian warships in the Philippines.
Duterte, who visited Beijing in October and eased tensions on the South China Sea dispute during his talks with President Xi Jinping, has lately been highly critical of the West.
In his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the APEC Summit in Peru in November, Duterte was highly critical of American military endeavors in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Korean peninsula. He also accused Western powers of starting wars against smaller, weaker nations.
Duterte praised Putin “not only because you represent a great country, but because of your leadership skills”.
The Philippine president is expected to visit Moscow in April, furthering throwing doubt on the strength of ties with historic ally Washington.
On Monday, Lorenzana sought to assure the Americans by explaining the memorandum of understanding with Russia.
“It’s not similar to the US which is a treaty, Mutual Defence Treaty, which mandates them to help us in case we’re attacked,” he said. “We won’t have that with Russia. The MOU is about exchange of military personnel, visits and observation of exercises,” he said in remarks picked up by Reuters.
The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies