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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

PH, Russia to boost defense cooperation

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The Philippines and Russia have agreed to bolster their defense cooperation during the sidelines of the VI Moscow Conference of International Security, which was attended by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday.

In a statement, the DFA said Lorenzana had his first bilateral meeting with his Russian counterpart,  Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu, in Moscow.

“Secretary Lorenzana and Defense Minister Shoygu welcomed the positive developments in the bilateral relations, and agreed to further bolster cooperation in the defense and security sphere,” the statement said.

Lorenzana noted that Russia and the Philippines have enjoyed cordial relations since establishing diplomatic relations in 1976, but “it is only now that we are set to substantiate our relations, especially in the area of defense.”

The Philippine official said that the Department of National Defense is ready to conclude a framework agreement with the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation when President Rodrigo Roa Duterte visits Moscow next month.

Lorenzana also said the Philippines looks forward to enhanced security and defense engagement in terms of training, exchange of information and expertise, and port calls, among others.

He likewise thanked Russia for its support of the Philippines’ chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations this year, specifically the Asean Defense Ministers Meeting Plus.

Russia considers the Philippines an important prospective partner in Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific region, its defense ministry said.

“We are encouraged by the progressive development of Russian-Philippine relations in the defense field. The key event in this context was the meeting of Presidents of the two countries at the Apec Summit in Lima last November,” Shoygu added.

Philippines-Russia politico-security relations are on the upswing, the DFA noted. In 2016, the two sides celebrated 40 years of diplomatic relations with high-level meetings of states, governments, ministerial, and senior officials, as well as cultural activities.

A good indication of the burgeoning PH-Russia defense interaction, the DFA said, was last week’s four-day port call in Manila of the guided missile cruiser “Varyag”—the flagship of the Russian Navy’s Pacific Fleet.

The first of such visits were that of the anti-submarine ship “Admiral Tributs” and sea-tanker “Boris Butoma” that came to Manila last January. These port calls are part of the Russian Navy’s goodwill initiative to promote trust and confidence between the two sides, the DFA said.

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