'Russia follows non-interference, just wants to be friends with PH'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 23 2017 08:26 PM

Russia is not interested in becoming a military power in Southeast Asia, Philippine Ambassador to Russia Carlos Sorreta said on Tuesday.

"They don't want to be a military power in our region. They don't want to compete with the power dynamics in the region, Sorreta said in a press conference.

Russians are more interested in engaging Southeast Asia on an economic and people-to-people basis, Sorreta said.

"The Russians follow a policy of non-interference. They just want to be friends with us. They don't want to make enemies for us or tell us who not to be friends with, unlike other countries," Sorreta said, without naming the nations he was referring to.

President Rodrigo Duterte last year announced that the government would pursue an independent foreign policy under his leadership. 

Duterte has repeatedly cursed the United States, the European Union, as well as international groups that have criticized his bloody campaign against illegal drugs. 

Last week, the Philippines decided to snub aid from the European Union if the assistance has pre-conditions that may interfere with the country's internal affairs.

Sorreta said this will not likely happen in the case of Moscow.

"They (Russians) hate it when other countries interfere with Russian affairs. They think sovereign states are capable of making decisions for themselves," he added.

With Duterte's 4-day official visit, economic as well as military ties between Moscow and Manila are expected to be strengthened.

"The defense cooperation is quite limited, just exchanges with personnel, training. That doesn't mean you are preparing to be allies against common enemies," he said.

Sorreta said the Russians only want to be involved in a "defense cooperation," not a "strategic security" partnership with the Philippines.