The Russian Navy says it is planning to hold maritime drills with the Philippines to help the Southeast Asian country fight terrorism and piracy.
The announcement on Tuesday came as two Russian ships – anti-submarine vessel Admiral Tributs and a sea tanker Boris Butoma – docked in Manila on a four-day goodwill visit.
According to Rear Admiral Eduard Mikhailov, the deputy commander of the Russian Navy’s Pacific fleet, an anti-submarine vessel, named Admiral Tributs and a sea tanker Boris Butoma arrived in the Philippine capital late on Tuesday for a four-day official navy-to-navy contact.
“Our governments will maybe discuss in some period of time the possibilities of our maritime exercises,” deputy commander of the Russian Navy’s Pacific fleet Rear Admiral Eduard Mikhailov said on board Admiral Tributs.
“We’re very sure that in the future we’ll get such exercises” with the Philippine side, perhaps “just the maneuvering or maybe use some combat systems and so on,” he told a news conference.
Mikhailov said that a wide range of equipment had been brought on both vessels to show Russia’s anti-terror capabilities to the Philippine military.
“The biggest problem now in the world is terrorism and piracy… we will show you what we can do and we will see what you can do and show us,” he said.
The joint drills come at a time of strained relations between the Philippines and the US. President Rodrigo Duterte was quoted as saying last month that Manila could live without US aid after Washington said it was halting assistance.
“You can choose … to cooperate with United State of America or to cooperate with Russia, but from our side we can help you in every way that you need,” Mikhailov said on Tuesday.
Philippines suffers from attacks from a number of terror groups on its territory, the most prominent of which is the ultra-violent Abu Sayyaf, which pledged alliance to the Daesh terrorist group in the summer of 2014.
Those groups have been involved in many criminal activities, including rape and drug trafficking, in what they describe as their battle for an independent province in the Philippines.