Russia is ready to supply the Philippines with sophisticated weapons including aircraft and submarines and aims to become a close friend of the country as it diversifies its foreign ties, Russia's ambassador said on Wednesday.
Illustrating the transformation of Philippine foreign relations since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took office in June, two Russian warships are on four-day visit to Manila this week, the first official navy-to-navy contact between the two countries.
Russian Ambassador Igor Anatolyevich Khovaev in a news conference on board the anti-submarine vessel Admiral Tributs said he understood that the Philippines was intent on diversifying its foreign partners.
"It's not a choice between these partners and those ones. Diversification means preserving and keeping old traditional partners and getting new ones. So Russia is ready to become a new reliable partner and close friend of the Philippines," he said.
"We don't interfere with your relations with your traditional partners and your traditional partners should respect the interest of the Philippines and Russia."
The Russian navy visit comes less than a month after Duterte sent his foreign and defense ministers to Moscow to discuss arms deals after a U.S. senator said he would block the sale of 26,000 assault rifles to the Philippines due to concern about a rising death toll in a war on drugs launched by Duterte, Reuters reported.
Khovaev said Russia had a range of weapons to offer.
"We are ready to supply small arms and light weapons, some aeroplanes, helicopters, submarines and many, many other weapons. Sophisticated weapons. Not the second-hand ones,” Khovaev said.
"Russia has a lot to offer but everything will be done in full compliance with international law."
"Your traditional partners should not be concerned about the military ties ... If they are concerned, it means they need to get rid of clichés," he said.