MANILA - A US defense official on Thursday cautioned the Philippines about procuring military equipment from Russia, including submarines.
US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver, who is in Manila for a 2-day visit, said choosing another supplier like Russia will be “an opportunity cost” that will affect interoperability.
“I think they (Philippine officials) should think very carefully about that… If they were to proceed with purchasing major Russian equipment, I don’t think that it’s a helpful thing to the alliance, and ultimately I think we can be a better partner than the Russians can be to the Philippines," he told reporters.
Schriver cited Russia’s record of annexing Crimea and involvement in the chemical attack in the United Kingdom.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana was quoted in reports as saying that Manila is looking to finalize the acquisition of 2 submarines from Moscow within the next 12 months.
Russia even offered a soft loan for the purchase, Lorenzana said according to reports.
“When you buy weapons systems particularly major platforms, you’re not just buying a capability, you’re investing in a relationship, and finding US platforms and US solutions helps us continue our interoperability, helps us improve our ability to operate in all kinds of scenarios so that’s an opportunity cost if you choose another supplier," Schriver said.
"One must understand the nature of this regime and Russia. I don’t need to go through the full laundry list: Crimea, Ukraine, the chemical attack in the UK. So you’re investing in not only platforms but you’re making a statement about the relationship," he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte has sought to build stronger ties with Russia and China, considered rivals of the US, the Philippines’ long-standing Pacific ally. The Philippine military has long relied on US hardware.
In October last year, Russia turned over 5,000 units of rifles, 20 multi-purpose vehicles, 1 million pieces of ammunition, and 5,000 steel helmets.