Russia to help PH develop its own defense industry

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NEED FOR SUBMARINES. Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev says the Philippines has the right to develop its submarine force, during a press conference with select defense and foreign journalists in Makati City on Tuesday, October 22. Khovaev said the Philippines, being an archipelagic state, needs a submarine fleet to protect its waters. | PNA photo by Joey O. Razon

Russia Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev on Tuesday, October 22, said Russia wants to build a long-term strategic cooperation with the Philippines, with defense and security as a key area of cooperation both countries wish to expand.

“We are ready to supply our sophisticated technologies in order to help your country develop your own defense industry,” Khovaev said.

He also said that the country may soon be making and exporting Russian-type guns through a proposal from Moscow.

“We have a very good proposal for you Filipinos. We are ready to organize joint production of Russian sophisticated light arms and small weapons here in the Philippines,” he said.

“You Filipinos will produce Russian arms and weapons…. They will be Philippine products based on Russian technologies,” Khovaev added.

According to the envoy, “bilateral negotiations” on the plan have started. He also expressed hope that the plan would materialize “as soon as possible.”

Khovaev also confirmed that the acquisition of several Mi-171 Russian helicopters for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is actively being negotiated by the two governments and assured that the outcome of negotiations “will be positive.”

He added that the Philippines “has the right” to have its own submarines because it is an archipelago, and that Russia is “ready to supply” submarines at “very competitive prices.”

Aside from weapons, Russia is willing to offer military education by welcoming Filipino cadets to train in its military institutions, according to Khovaev.

“All options are on the table. Once again, no political conditionality. Russia will never teach anyone human rights or something like that. We’ll never use our defense cooperation as a pretext to interfere, to meddle into the domestic affairs of other sovereign states,” he said.

No interference

Khovaev, without mentioning any specific country, said that the Philippines’ allies should not interfere in the country’s bilateral relations with Moscow as the two countries’ defense cooperation is not against any other country. 

“No third country has the right to interfere into our defense cooperation because our defense cooperation is not not against anyone. It’s not against any other country,” he said.

“Your traditional partners, your allies, have no right to interfere into our bilateral cooperation. They must respect the choice of Russia and the Philippines,” the envoy added.

Last year, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a law punishing Russia for its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, its support for Syria’s government as well as its suspected meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Any U.S. ally who would buy weapons and equipment from Russia would be penalized and could see the transfer of those arms disrupted.

Khovaev, meanwhile, stressed that Russia and the Philippines would continue to share information and cooperate closely against terrorism, without conditions. 

“We’ll do our best to help your country with no political conditionality, simply because terrorism is our common threat,” he said. 

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