Bolstering of PHL-Russia defense coop on ‘right track’: Russian envoy

The effort to establish defense cooperation between Manila and Moscow is on the right track, Russian Ambassador to Manila Igor Khovaev said Monday.

The affirmation comes days after President Rodrigo Duterte renewed calls for closer ties with Russia and hailed it for respecting the Philippines’ sovereignty.

“We are on the right track,” Khovaev told reporters in an interview in Manila. “We attach great importance to this cooperation and we are ready and we are taking necessary measures in order to help your country to increase your defense capability.”

Meanwhile, he clarified that this has “nothing to do between the relationship of the Philippines with any other countries”.

Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with Washington after it revoked the US visa of Senator Ronald dela Rosa, the former Philippine National Police chief who implemented the administration’s crackdown against illegal drugs. The VFA, signed in 1988, gives clear instructions on how visiting American troops should be treated in the Philippines.

As a Russian diplomat, Khovaev maintained that he is not in the position to make comments on Manila’s domestic political developments and its ties with other nations. PNA.GOV.PH