This week Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is set to meet with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. The meeting should be understood as part of Duterte’s efforts to take his country out of America’s geo-political and economic orbit and engage in countries that constitute the other end of the multi-polar world.
Duterte has all ready engaged in an historic rapprochement with China, something which looks set to calm tensions over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
Last year, Duterte welcomed a Russian Navy group to Philippines to engage in a friendly military demonstration. At the event Duterte spoke of his desire to foster closer and better relations with the Russian Federation.
Now, on the eve of talks with President Putin, Duterte told Russian reporters that he seeks to break from a traditional over-dependence on America.
“It’s the way how they handle it. You (the United States) treat me as if I am your colony still? You must be kidding. Why would I allow it, why would I allow you to treat me as if I am your colonial governor? We are independent country. We will survive, we will endure. We can go hungry, but this time, I want my country treated with dignity”.
Duterte had famously poor relations with Barack Obama. He infamously called the former American President the “son of a whore”. By contrast, he has had only warm words for Donald Trump who he is set to meet later this year.
Duterte explained his current position on the US vis-a-vis Russia and China, saying,
“I have nothing against America, Trump is my friend. But my foreign policy has shifted. I want to deal with China and Russia. Because in Western world, it’s double talk”.
While many in the west mock Duterte’s forthright rhetoric, he may hold the key to better relations between a Russia which he is cultivating and an American President who he admires in spite of his previous anti-American statements.
Now watch President Duterte explain his foreign policy goals.