Russia reiterates willingness to help Philippines defense capability
Russia reiterated on Wednesday its readiness to help the Philippines improve its defense capability as it is exploring other areas of business cooperation, such as in pharmaceuticals, aviation and railways.
In a press conference at the Russian Ambassador's residence in Makati City, Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev said "a number of agreements" are expected to be signed between the Philippines and Russia when President Rodrigo Duterte visits Moscow again on October 1-5.
While he refused to say yet the number of deals to be signed, he said it would be on different sectors as both countries "want to diversify our cooperation."
He did not confirm if defense or military cooperation would be among those agreements, but he said, "Our country is coming to help the Philippines to help increase your defense capability."
He said Russian has sophisticated weapons and it could also conduct joint drills with the Filipinos.
Duterte and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected to hold bilateral meeting at Sochi, he said.
The Filipino leader first visited Russia in May 2017. But this was cut short due to Marawi siege.
Aleksey Gruzdev, Russia's deputy minister of Industry and Trade, said they want to explore new possibilities and diversified trade with the Philippines.
Gruzdev, along with a number of Russian businessmen, is on a two-day visit to Manila from September 24.
He said they want to expand cooperation in areas of pharmaceutical, transport and aviation, infrastructure and energy.
He said Russia is a producer of aircraft, such as flying ambulance and other helicopters, and it is also engaged in shipbuilding.
Moscow could also help in the Philippines' "Build, Build, Build" program, such as in the rail sector, he added.
Currently, he said Russia's exports to the Philippines are mainly mineral products, such as oil and gas; metals and metal products; and agricultural products, among others.
Khovaev said he is inviting Filipinos to visit St. Petersburg and its surrounding region as his government starts to implement free electronic visa on October 1.
He said the free e-visa is only valid for a maximum of eight travel days. Celerina Monte/DMS