Russian destroyer docks in Manila

Manila, Jan 3 (IANS) A warship of Russia’s Pacific Fleet docked on Tuesday in Manila for an unusual “goodwill” visit to mark the Philippines’ rapprochement with Moscow and Beijing.

The Admiral Tributs, a 7,480-tonne Udaloy-class anti-submarine destroyer, will remain in Filipino waters till Saturday and participate in several joint naval drills, the Filipino navy said.

The Russian warship’s visit – the third ever in history and the first in four years – seeks to promote goodwill and cement ties between Manila and Moscow, Efe news reported.

The move has confirmed a shift in the Philippines’ defence and foreign policy after the election of Rodrigo Duterte as the President in June. He promised to do away with the traditional military alliance with the US.

Duterte, 71, has threatened to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement, in force since 1999, that permits, among other things, the use of Filipino bases by US troops and regular joint military drills.

The estrangement between Duterte and Obama comes after the US severely criticised an ongoing anti-drugs movement in the Philippines that has over the past six months claimed more than 6,100 lives of alleged drug traffickers and addicts.

Manila has also been working towards developing better defence ties with Beijing – with whom it is also embroiled in territorial disputes in the South China Sea – and Moscow.

–IANS

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