Turn Duterte: Philippine President arrived in Russia for arms and friendship


© RIA Novosti / Dmitry Astakhov

Vladimir Agaev, a columnist for RIA Novosti

Monday, may 22, in the Russian capital there has arrived the President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte. The main event of his visit will be meeting with Vladimir Putin, which is scheduled for may 25.

Before leaving Manila Duterte informed Russian journalists that the Central points of his agenda will be the issues of security and defense, as well as “balance in trade relations between our two countries and agreements in the field of agriculture.”

He stated that he refused an invitation to Washington, preferring to travel to Moscow.

“I specifically excluded the US from the list of countries from whom I will seek new sources of assistance. In the US, I was not. I was invited to the inauguration ceremony of the trump. But I said, “not Yet, I need to go to Russia,” said Rodrigo Duterte, according to which, “now you ought to rely on word of Russia and China” because “America is hypocritical.”

“Non-system” President

Duterte, won the post of President in July 2016, immediately behaved as an independent leader, with the move, saying that his country would be free from the influence of the United States and pursue a sovereign foreign policy, independently determining its own foreign policy priorities. He became famous for some very hard statements against the United States when the previous American President — Barack Obama.

In particular, he urged the United States not to consider his country “like a dog on a leash” and stated that the United States can forget about the agreement on expansion of defense cooperation between the two countries, if he will continue President. Said that for his country it’s time to “say goodbye” with the United States, but later said that although his country could not break off relations with the U.S., but the Philippines there is no need to align its policies with those of Washington.

Meanwhile, in November Duterte congratulated Donald trump with his victory in the presidential elections, and later stated that you can work with it, and on the eve of visit to Russia even called him a “good guy” and a friend.

It is not excluded that the Philippine leader sees in the American “soul mate” — the same “non-system”, the chosen people, contrary to the sentiments of the political elite of the President. He comes from the South of the country, does not belong to the capital’s Filipino clans with their traditional Pro-American orientation.

Judging by the statements of Duterte, it is set for a radical foreign policy turn his country intends to strengthen relations with major geopolitical players, like Russia and China. In October 2016, he fulfilled his promise and signed a decree on the revision of an agreement to broaden defense cooperation between his country and the United States concluded in 2014. As stated by the Philippine leader, unless the agreement referred to joint military exercises, “the American army in full force would leave the Philippines”.

Weapons first and foremost

Rodrigo Duterte admits that in the first place in the negotiations in Moscow, are buying weapons. Philippines are interested in deliveries of Russian small arms, high-precision missiles, helicopters and aircraft, he said ahead of the visit.

“We are fighting with the rebels, the same which was formerly in Russia. It’s just a few thugs wreaking havoc. Not so much. And it is not always necessary (heavy. — Approx. ed) technique to deal with them. But the necessary intelligence, you need precision weapons. And we have such technology there. Talking about small arms, missiles that can accurately hit the target. And, perhaps, more important in the context of counter-insurgency, helicopters or airplanes. Not a jet, and screw — not as expensive and more effective in opposition to small groups of terrorists in conflict areas,” explained Duarte.

According to the Minister of defence of Russia Sergey Shoigu, during this visit between the two countries could be signed the agreement on cooperation in the field of defense that will open up opportunities for specific deals. His Philippine counterpart of Delphine Lorenzana previously stated that in addition to aircraft, helicopters and small arms Manila interested in submarines and armored vehicles from Russia.

Duterte argues that the Philippines did not intend to buy more weapons from the United States, because Moscow, unlike Washington, “sells weapons, and places no conditions”. Diversification of the supply of arms necessary Manila to reduce dependence in the sphere of military supplies from the United States, which had tried to use her as a lever of political pressure.

Until today between Russia and the Philippines, there was no signed contract on military-technical cooperation.

At the same time last year, China has sent to this country small arms and coast guard boats in the amount of $ 14 million. Ended on may 15 in Beijing, the forum of “One belt and one road” Delfin of Lorenzana said that his country is ready to buy more Chinese weapons, using Chinese loan of half a billion dollars.

In March Duterte allowed Russian ships to freely enter Philippine territorial waters and ports, giving this right and the Chinese Navy ships, and in April, pointedly visited the Russian missile cruiser “Varyag”.

To balance it out.

During the trip, Rodrigo Duterte accompanied by an impressive delegation of representatives of the Philippine business. Economic themes will be crucial in the negotiations.

In 2016, the volume of mutual trade between the countries amounted to a very small amount — a total of 226 million dollars. When this trade balance has an overwhelming preponderance in favor of Russia: Philippine goods into the country was supplied only at $ 49 million. How RT compares the annual volume of trade between Russia and another state of South East Asia, comparable with the Philippines economic and demographic potential — Vietnam — billions of dollars.

In addition to a number of tropical products, the Philippines can supply Russia with industrial products — island state has successfully developed production based on high technologies. All this will be the subject of economic negotiations in Moscow. As attracting foreign investment, especially in infrastructure projects that are very interested in Manila. It is not excluded that we will focus on the development of oil offshore in the South China sea.

However, the participation in this project may be fraught with a serious problem. The fact that this sea area China claims — despite the fact that in July 2016 the Permanent court of arbitration in the Hague upheld the claim of the Philippines and acknowledged the territorial claims of China untenable. Celestial the judgment is not recognized, and the Chinese leader, XI Jinping clearly hinted Duterte that if the Philippines will develop economic activity in the disputed area, Beijing will not hesitate to military action. Russia’s participation in the development of the area of the continental shelf in the conditions not regulated dispute is unlikely to favour relations between all three countries.