‘Formulate your wish list…think of what kind of assistance you expect from Russia’
Russia’s ambassador to the Philippines has said Moscow is ready to discuss an all-encompassing partnership with president Rodrigo Duterte, after he announced his country was “separating” from the United States.
Igor Khovaev confirmed the Russian government was willing to provide diplomatic assistance to the Philippines in “any area, any field of possible cooperation”, adding that the two countries “deserve to know each other much, much better”.
“Formulate your wish list,” Mr Khovaev told Mr Duterte, according to the GMA news agency. “Think of what kind of assistance you expect from Russia and we will be ready to sit down with you and discuss what can and should be done.”
Mr Khovaev added that Moscow “would not interfere with the domestic affairs of a sovereign state” and merely wanted to offer support.
During recent visit to China, Mr Duterte announced he believed “America has lost” and said he would “go to Russia to talk to Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world – China, Philippines and Russia”.
The US government said it would seek clarity on the president’s comments, while it was reported the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had had productive discussions with Mr Duterte during a visit to Laos in September.
The Philippines’ trade minister, Ramon Lopez, meanwhile said the talk of separation from the US had been misinterpreted.
“In terms of economic [ties], we are not stopping trade, investment with America,” he told CNN. “The president specifically mentioned his desire to strengthen further the ties with China and the ASEAN region, which we have been trading with for centuries.”
In early October, Mr Duterte effectively severed 65 years of military ties between the US and the Philippines by ordering US troops out of the country.
The president, who has been in power since June, has attracted condemnation from the US and EU for encouraging a violent and protracted war on drugs, in which 3,600 have been killed – prompting Mr Duterte to issue expletive-filled dismissals of all who opposed his policies.