In May of this year, President Rodrigo Duterte travelled to Moscow with the intent of forging new economic and security ties to Russia, a country which Philippines has traditionally been distant from due to the legacy of US imperialism.
Today, Russia confirmed that it is sending “5,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles, 1 million cartridges and 20 military trucks” to Philippines free of charge.
This, while an apparent good will gesture which will help Philippines to continue its vigilant stance against terrorism after the defeat of ISIS in Marawi, will help to cement future economic cooperation between Moscow and the economy of Philippines which is in the top ten fastest growing economies in the world.
Russia has already begun pivoting its trade interests to South East Asia with new free trade agreements between Thaliana and Russian led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), as well as one in the works between Indonesia and the EAEU.
Russia retains historically good relations with Vietnam, in spite of its profoundly domineering partnerships with China, but in Philippines, a growing and potentially groundbreaking young economy, now has the opportunity to enhance trading cooperation with Russia, as never previously thought posssible. This has been largely achieved because of President Duterte, who has taken it upon himself to expand ties with both Russia and China. In this sense, Philippines can help to complete Russia’s long-term goal of establishing good trading relations and even a ASEAN-EAEU free trading network, a project that was discussed and analysed in this piece by geopolitical expert Andrew Korybko.
Duterte has frequently praised Russia’s no-nonsense and businesslike approach to weapons sales. This matter of fact and anti-ideological position of Russia, also transcends into other areas of commerce and bilateral/region-shifting relations.
This early sign of good will shown by Russia, sends a clear message that Moscow trusts and even likes the leadership in Manila. Rodrigo Duterte has just secured a new partner in the form of the Russian superpower. This will have positive implications of Philippines for decades to come.