PHL breaching US sanctions on Moscow firm ‘illogical’: Russian envoy

The Russian Embassy in Manila on Sunday said it is “illogical” to say that the Philippines could breach sanctions imposed by the United States against blacklisted Rosoboronexport if it finalized an arms deal with the state-run firm.

In a statement, Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev said the restrictions against Rosoboronexport were introduced in accordance with the US internal legislation, and not the international law.

On July 18, Reuters published a report that the Philippines could breach US sanctions if its arms deal with Russia proceeds.

“If we follow their line of reasoning, it would appear that the very same American laws should work in the Philippines. In legal terms this is called ‘exterritoriality’ — a principle from the colonial times according to which the laws of the parent state would also apply in its colonies,” the envoy said.

Khoavev also explained the agreement is a matter of trade relations between two independent nations and does not involve a third country in any way.

“Russia advances itself only through a high quality and reasonable price policy. It is called fair competition,” he said.

“One more thing Russia does not have is a practice of making our trade partners hostages of that partnership, forcing them to twist their domestic and foreign policy to our liking. The only way we can pave is to persuade the countries buying from us that they are making the right choice,” he added.

Apart from the Philippines, Khovaev said 100 other nations around the world “successfully cooperate” with the Rosoboronexport “with no harm to their foreign policy.”

The envoy shared that in 2017, Russia signed agreements worth more than USD16 billion for export of its arms and military equipment, including with new partners like Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Turkey.

“Not a single one of these deals has been canceled,” he said.

Khovaev is optimistic the partnership will push through, saying the deal will basically contribute to regional peace and stability since it is aimed at fighting terrorism.

“Russia considers the Government of the Philippines a reliable partner with whom we are firmly set on building a long-term and mutually beneficial cooperation,” he noted.

Citing an anonymous Philippine defense official, the report said US has not officially notified the Philippines about the restrictions on Rosoboronexport, blacklisted by America in April.

“It’s still a go until we are informed,” the official was quoted as saying.

But in response, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said Malacañang will study the issue. He initially expressed doubts the Philippines will violate US sanctions on the state-run firm since the sale would be in Russia.

Roque, a professor of international and constitutional law, also questioned the legal basis of US to impose sanctions on countries like the Philippines that has “absolute immunity as a sovereign state”.

He said he has no idea if the arms deal will proceed but “the official stand is, we will study the matter.” PNA