Russian envoy tells PH allies, partners not to interfere in Manila-Moscow relations

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 22 2019 08:17 PM | Updated as of Oct 22 2019 09:23 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet on the sidelines of the APEC Leaders' Summit in Lima, Peru on November 19, 2018. Malacañang photo/File

MANILA - Traditional partners and allies of the Philippines should not interfere in the country's bilateral relations with Moscow, the top Russian envoy in Manila said Tuesday.

Without mentioning any specific country, Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev said the two countries’ defense cooperation is not against any country. 

This, after Moscow had committed to help Manila increase its defense capabilities to help in efforts for regional peace and security.

“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,” Khovaev told reporters in a press briefing on the outcome of Duterte’s recent visit to Russia.
 
“Your traditional partners, your allies, have no right to interfere into our bilateral cooperation. They must respect the choice of Russia and the Philippines.”

US President Donald Trump signed a law last year punishing Russia for its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, its support for Syria's government and its suspected meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, an accusation the Kremlin has denied.

US allies -- like the Philippines -- that would buy weapons and equipment from Russia would be penalized and could see the transfer of those arms disrupted.

The Russian ambassador, however, emphasized Russia’s readiness to boost the Philippines’ defense capability. He said the two countries 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,” Khovaev said.

He said both sides are working on a Philippine plan to acquire Russian Mi-17 helicopters, saying he believes the “outcome will be positive.”

Last December, however, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said they would acquire 16 Black Hawk helicopters from US-based Sikorsky Aircraft Corp due to US sanctions on Russian military exports.

Khovaev said Russia does not supply secondhand weapons --which the Unites States had been accused of -- and is ready to supply the Philippines with sophisticated technology to develop its defense capability. 

All these will be done in compliance with international law and to contribute to regional peace and stability, he said.

“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.