Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev on Tuesday assured that his country is ready to be a reliable friend and partner of the Philippines but noted that it is not seeking to establish a military alliance with any country within the Asia-Pacific region.
"We are open for cooperation with all responsible members of the international community, including the Philippines," Khovaev said in a forum in Quezon City on Tuesday.
"[But] we are not talking about alliance.... We are talking about partnership and friendship. Russia has no military alliance in the Asia-Pacific region. We are not going to create any military alliance," he added.
After declaring a military and economic split from US in Beijing, President Rodrigo Duterte said he wants to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin next to forge closer relations.
"I realign myself in your ideological flow and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to Putin. There are three of us against the world. China, Philippines, Russia," Duterte said during his visit to China last October.
Khovaev said he is "deeply impressed" with Duterte and his initiative to create s a strong partnership with Russia.
"I strongly believe we have all the pre-conditions to enhance our cooperation in different fields," Khovaev said.
However, he said Russia does not want to meddle with the issue on the disputed territories in the South China Sea.
"Russia does not take sides in [South] China Sea [issue]. It must be solved in compliance with international law," Khovaev said.
On independent foreign policy
In the same forum, Khovaev also commented on Duterte's independent foreign policy.
"I think that independent [foreign] policy requires independent mentality. Everything should be well-balanced especially in politics, especially in international affairs," Khovaev said.
For Khovaev, all members of the international community should be equal. "It is a pre-condition for a new world order, a new system of international relations, to be based on equality and mutual responsibility.... All of us depend on each other and all of us need each other," Khovaev said.
Khovaev said that his country only wants to become "a responsible member of the international community" in the new world order.
Duterte, in his visit to China, announced that he is breaking the country's military and economic ties with US. He later clarified this statement, saying that he only wants to pursue an independent foreign policy.
Khovaev, however, said Russia has no plans to influence the relationship of the Philippines with its traditional allies.
At the same time, he said that no country should go between the relationship of Russia with the Philippines.
"We believe that no country should interfere to the development of Russian-Philippine relations," Khovaev said.
On war on drugs
Khovaev also expressed his support to the Duterte administration's war on drugs, but declined to comment, as a diplomat, on the methods.
"We sincerely wish every success on your campaign. We understand well your legitimate concerns," Khovaev said. "As for the methods, we refrain from any comments," he added, saying that he had no right to comment on domestic developments.
Khovaev also confirmed that Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana are expected to visit Russia in December.
This was earlier shared to the members of the media by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon during a press conference in Lima, Peru on November 21.
"I think the Secretary [Yasay] is going [to Russia] with Secretary Lorenzana. Ako sana 'yung pangatlo pero tapos na kami eh," Esperon told reporters. — VVP, GMA News