Russian warships on five-day visit to Philippines

Two Russian Navy ships with the deputy commander of Russia’s Pacific Fleet on board docked in Manila, Philippines on January 3.

The good-will visit that will last until January 7 will not involve any naval exercises but Rear Adm. Eduard Mikhailov told reporters that Russia was looking forward to staging naval exercises with the Philippines in the future. The drills could include maneuvering or perhaps the use of combat systems, he further elaborated.

The two Russian vessels that arrived for the good-will visit are Admiral Tributs, an anti-submarine destroyer, and Boris Butoma, a sea tanker.

This is the third time Russian Navy vessels visited the Philippines. The first visit took place in January 2012, when three Russian ships were welcomed at Pier 15, South Harbor, Manila.

Marshall Gelovani, a hydrographic vessel, berthed in South Harbor, Manila for resupply and replenishment in May 2016.

This is also the first time Russian warships are visiting the Philippines during Rodrigo Duterte’s tenure. The controversial president, who is waging a bloody war on drugs, is improving relations with China and Russia despite being a long-time ally of the U.S..

In September 2016, the Filipino president said that the Philippines would halt military cooperation with the U.S. during his tenure. Duterte also canceled joint South China Sea patrols with the U.S., all in a sign of shifting diplomatic relations to China and Russia.