Russia eyes weapon manufacturing hub in Philippines
Russia and the Philippines have been in talks for possible establishment of a manufacturing hub for light and small weapons in the country, the Russian envoy said on Tuesday.
In a press conference in his official residence in Makati City, Russian Ambassador to Manila Igor Khovaev said the two countries have started discussing Russia's proposal.
"We are ready to organize the joint production of Russian sophisticated light arms and small weapons here in the Philippines. So, Filipinos will produce Russian arms and weapons. They will be Philippine products based on Russian technologies," he explained.
Asked of the possible timeline as to when the agreement could be signed, the envoy said it was still subject to negotiations.
"I can only express my hope that it will be done as soon as possible. But what I can say is that both, two sides are committed (to) open up new horizons to our defense cooperation. And one of these horizons is the joint production, joint manufacturing of arms and weapons here on the Philippine soil," he added.
Russia is also discussing the Philippine government's possible purchase of helicopters from Moscow.
"We are working on that. So, I'd like to remind you that Russia produces the best helicopters in the world," Khovaev said.
He cited that even the United States used Russian helicopters in Afghanistan.
He stressed that any defense cooperation with the Philippines has "no political conditionality."
As to the nuclear energy agreement that the two countries signed during President Rodrigo Duterte's visit to Moscow recently, he clarified that it was only a memorandum of intention.
He said it would be up to the Philippine government if it would need the help of Russia in developing its nuclear energy sector or not. Celerina Monte/DMS