MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday received thousands of rifles and various military equipment donated by Russia in a simple turnover ceremony at the Port of Manila.
The donation consists of 5,000 AK-74M Kalashnikov rifles, 20 multi-purpose vehicles, 1 million pieces of ammunition, and 5,000 steel helmets, to be used for the country’s continuing war against terrorism.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu witnessed the turnover ceremony.
Aside from accepting the military equipment, Duterte also toured the large anti-submarine ship Admiral Pantaleev to check its air defense system and wardroom.
The donation highlights the warming relations between the Philippines and Russia ever since Duterte assumed office in June last year.
Apart from boosting economic ties, Duterte has repeatedly expressed his desire to procure military equipment from Russia, as well as China, especially in the wake of reports that the US State Department had halted the sale of thousands of rifles to the Philippine National Police.
Just recently, China also turned over 3,000 assault rifles to the Philippines.
Duterte visited Russia last May at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The two leaders first met on the sidelines of the APEC meet in Lima, Peru in November 2016, where Putin extended the invitation to Duterte to visit Moscow.
However, Duterte cut short his five-day trip to Russia after declaring martial law in Mindanao on May 23 due to the Marawi siege.
But before returning home, Duterte briefly met with Putin where the Russian president reportedly offered military assistance for the country’s war against terrorism. PNA-northboundasia.com