In this Feb. 17, 2020 photo, Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev meets with Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Felimon Santos Jr.
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Russia distances self from end of Philippines-US military pact
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - February 18, 2020 - 3:39pm

MANILA, Philippines — Russia clarified that it is not involved in the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States.

The Russian Embassy in Manila released a statement a day after Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev paid a courtesy call to Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Felimon Santos Jr.

The embassy said it was only doing its work to develop bilateral cooperation with other nations, including military cooperation.

"And the courtesy call by the Russian Ambassador on the AFP Chief F. Santos has nothing to do with the known recent event in US-Philippine cooperation," Russian Embassy press secretary Natalia Linovitskaya said in a statement.

Linovitskaya noted that the Philippines and Russia have its own independent course on bilateral cooperation, particularly in the military-technical aspects, that does not depend on a third party.

The current path of the military cooperation between the two countries are based on the what President Rodrigo Duterte and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed in October 2019.

"Now we are just implementing the agreements reached last year," Linovitskaya said.

In a Facebook post, the Russian Embassy said the meeting between Khovaev and Santos focused on the development of military and military-technical cooperation.

The Russian envoy also met with Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr. to discuss the current status of bilateral ties between Manila and Moscow.

The Philippine government has sent a notification to the US on its decision to abrogate the VFA, which is the legal framework for the presence of US military personnel in the country.

During the Senate hearing on the VFA a few weeks ago, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the termination of the military deal with the US may facilitate closer relations with non-traditional partners, such as Russia.

The Philippines' top diplomat described Russia as "a power like the US too far to meddle in our internal affairs without any acquisitive interest in our territory yet strong and with a long enough reach to hit a common enemy in mutual defense." 

ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES PHILIPPINES-RUSSIA TIES RUSSIA US-PHILIPPINES TIES VISITING FORCES AGREEMENT
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