MalacaƱang sees a boost in ties with Moscow with the goodwill visit of Russian warships to the country, and says President Duterte is open to joint military exercises with Russia.

Rear Admiral Eduard Mikhailov, head of the Flotilla of the Russian Navy Pacific Fleet, said on Tuesday Russia wanted to hold maritime exercises with the Philippines to help combat terrorism and piracy. "But from our side, we can help you in every way that you need". "That's the best possible assurance and in the history of military ties in all our partners around the world there has never been any kind of interference or link to political pressure".

Since assuming office in June lat, Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has been reviewing decades-long security arrangements with the United States, that are bound by a mutual defence pact.

Also, Khovaev claimed that he recognized Philippines effort in expanding its choice of foreign partners.

On Thursday, a Philippine Navy official said a frigate of the Philippine Navy and Russia's Admiral Tributs will be conducting a bilateral passing exercise (Passex) as the latter and Boris Butoma leave the country on Saturday.

Washington and the Philippines have been holding naval exercises annually but Duterte has instructed the defence ministry to "reformat" drills with Washington, moving away from the South China Sea to fix relations with China.

The ambassador was responding to a question about his statement on the need to get rid of "outdated leashes", in the context of the Philippines' traditional partnership with the United States. "Sophisticated weapons. Not second-hand ones", Mr Khovaev said.

Russian Navy ships arrive in the Philippines as Duturte moves to bolster Moscow ties

"There will be courtesy calls, tour of historical places within Manila and nearby Cavite province, capability demonstration, goodwill games, wreath laying, shipboard tour and send-off ceremony among others", Capt. Lued Lincuna, a spokesman for the Philippines Navy, said.

As to specifics of what the Russians intend to take the relationship further are unclear. The navy officer expressed confidence that Russian Federation and all the claimants of the marginal sea, including the Philippines, China and Malaysia, will have joint military exercises in the coming years.

"We are ready to supply small arms and light weapons, some aeroplanes, helicopters, submarines and many, many other weapons".

Last week it was reported that Duterte has asked his defense chief to move the location of a joint naval drill with the USA away from the disputed South China Sea.

Lorenzana visited Moscow last month and discussed with Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov expanding Philippines-Russia defense cooperation.

This is the third time a Russian navy vessel has visited the Philippines, the Philippine Navy said. This will further reassure China, which is apprehensive about the USA military activities in the disputed territory.

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