Russian navy visits Philippines as Duterte tightens ties with U.S. foes

Russia's guided missile cruiser named Varyag is now docked in Manila for a goodwill visit. Jorge Cariño ABS-CBN News

Russia's guided missile cruiser named Varyag is now docked in Manila for a goodwill visit. Jorge Cariño ABS-CBN News

Russian guided-missile cruiser Varyag, along with fuel tanker ship Pechange, have arrived in the Philippines for a four-day goodwill visit, reports the the US Navy Times.

Varyag arrived with Pechenga, a large sea tanker, Thursday morning at Pier 15 in Manila's South Harbor.

Russian guided missile cruiser Varyag makes a port call in Manila on April 20, 2017. The vessels are part of the Russian Navy's Pacific Fleet.

Navy Capt. Leo Ramon Miado, fleet staff for maintenance and fix, said the port call of the Russian vessels will give Filipino sailors additional insights on the other modern navy of today, aside from the usual warships of allied countries, particularly those coming from the U.S. that have been alternately docking in the country.

HEAVILY ARMED. Varyag is armed with 16 anti-ship missiles.

When Duterte met Putin for the first time past year, the Philippine leader spoke at length about what he called US "hypocrisy". "This is a training opportunity for us".

Lincuna said the Russian warship was welcomed by the Navy's World War II vintage BRP Rajah Humabon upon her arrival in the vicinity of Corregidor island. Duterte even toured the warship.

Lincuna said the Russian Navy contingent will engage in a series of confidence-building activities with their Filipino counterparts such as courtesy call on the Flag Officer In Command, wreath-laying ceremony, reciprocal receptions, Russian cultural show at Rizal Park (Luneta), goodwill games followed by a boodle fight and shipboard tour that is also open to civilians.

FLAGSHIP. Varyag is the flagship of the Russian Pacific Fleet.

The relationship is expected to develop further next month when Duterte and Russiancounterpart Vladimir Putin witness the signing of defense agreements in Moscow.

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