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2 Aug, 2018 15:44

Philippines won’t stop buying Russian arms over US pressure – FM

Philippines won’t stop buying Russian arms over US pressure – FM

The Philippines won’t stop purchasing weapons from Moscow, despite possible pressure from the US, the nation’s foreign minister has said in response to reports that Washington may introduce sanctions for arms deals with Russia.

“I don't think that we will give it up,” Alan Peter Cayetano said Thursday in Singapore at his meeting with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.

“It will actually by a test of our resolve for an independent foreign policy. I don’t see us wavering from that,” Cayetano stressed.

The two nations signed a military cooperation agreement last year, and the Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte had personally overseen the transfer of about 5,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles donated by Moscow.

The South Pacific country needs new arms to combat an Islamist guerilla insurgency and the rise of domestic terrorism. Two years ago, the US called off its shipment of more than 25,000 rifles to Manila, citing human rights violations, and the nation started exploring new markets.

According to the deals signed, aside from guns, Russia will ship anti-tank RPGs and military vehicles to the Philippines.The government is also exploring the option of buying Russian armored cars, patrol boats, submarines and helicopters.

Other nations expressing an interest in buying Russian arms were cautioned against such a move and even threatened by the US and its allies. American politicians have tried to pressure its NATO ally Turkey to drop plans for acquiring the Russian S-400 air defense missile systems, even citing the possible deal as one of a number of reasons to block the sale of US fighter jets to Ankara. Turkey pushed back against the US, insisting that, as a sovereign nation, it alone will determine whose arms it will buy.

Washington also cautioned India against purchasing the Russian-made S-400s, suggesting that the deal will make the US less eager to provide Delhi with arms and military tech in the future. India also publicly pushed back against the US demands. The Pentagon later asked Congress to allow the president to waive sanctions against India to help the country “pull away from the Russian orbit.” The Senate approved the bill on Thursday.  

In June, French media reported that the same tactic was applied by US ally Saudi Arabia against the Gulf nation of Qatar, which also expressed interest in acquiring S-400s from Moscow.