Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana expressed optimism for improved defense relations with his Russian counterparts in line with the independent foreign policy thrust of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
Speaking aboard the Russian anti-submarine ship Admiral Tributs docked at Pier 15 in the Manila South Harbor, Secretary Lorenzana said that he sees this latest goodwill visit of the Russian Navy as the ‘start of a partnership’ between the defense establishments of Russia and the Philippines.
“We thank you sincerely for this cordial gesture and we hope that this will be the start of a partnership between the One Defense Team – Philippines and its counterpart in the Russian Federation,” he said.
Lorenzana also mentioned his trip to Russia in early December when he met with Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov and Director Alexander Fomin of the Federal Service of Military Technical Cooperation to discuss mutual concerns such as terrorism and illegal drugs. They also talked about the possibility of future military to military engagements.
The Secretary also said that he conveyed to the same Russian officials his agreement to continue the long pending Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two Defense organizations which was initiated in 2014. Both sides agreed that the MOU should be finalized in time for signing during the forthcoming visit of President Duterte to Russia. Once signed, the MOU becomes the basis of all future military to military engagements which may include visits, exchange of students, conferences, joint exercises, among others.
“May our common aspirations for regional and global peace and security enable us to become good partners, cooperating and coordinating towards tranquil and safe seas for all,” Secretary Lorenzana said.
The Admiral Tributs is accompanied by another Russian ship, the Boris Butoma which serves as a tanker and supply ship.