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Russian envoy praises Duterte neutrality on Ukraine war

Russia’s ambassador to the Philippines on Monday called President Rodrigo Duterte’s neutral stance on the invasion of Ukraine a “balanced and wise” position and said ties between Manila and Moscow can still be strengthened amid global sanctions against his country.

The Philippines voted to support the UN General Assembly resolution last February 28 condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but Duterte has said in televised remarks last week that he was staying neutral and cited his friendship with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

“I’d like to thank the Philippine side and especially President Duterte for his assessment and his pronouncement regarding my country and his personal relations with my president,” Russian Ambassador Marat Pavlov said at a press forum Monday.

“It’s a very balanced and wise position,” he said.

Despite global sanctions on Russia, Pavlov said he believes the Philippines and Russia could still have normal diplomatic and trade relations, noting that two countries have enjoyed “mutual beneficial interaction in many fields.”

“It depends on both sides how to promote our cooperation, but I think from the Russian side we are ready to continue our cooperation in different fields,” Pavlov said.

Ukraine was home to nearly 400 Filipinos and since the war broke out, the Philippine government was able to bring home dozens of Filipinos from the eastern European state.

The Philippines joined 140 countries in denouncing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine before the United Nations, expressing “explicit condemnation” against “the use of force against the political independence and territorial integrity of any state.”

Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Manuel Romualdez even said that President Duterte is willing to open Philippine facilities to the United States military if the Russian-Ukraine crisis spills over to the Asian region.

Russian troops launched their attack on Ukraine on February 24, drawing international condemnations, warnings and sanctions from countries, led by the US, with US President Joe Biden calling Moscow’s move “unprovoked and unjustified.”

Romualdez explained that while Duterte "values the friendship he made with President Putin and President Xi, he knows that this thing happening right now in Ukraine is something that should not have happened because it was unprovoked.”

In contrast to the strong Philippine statement before the UN, Duterte, who called Putin a “personal friend,” suddenly declared that the Philippines will stay neutral and will “not send a single soldier” to war if asked to join a coalition against Russia.

“Let’s avoid meddling in it so that we won’t get involved,” he said. 

Russia’s envoy to Manila said the Russian side also stresses the importance of the “personal relations” between Duterte and Putin. —KG, GMA News