Russian warships visit Philippines; admiral suggests wider exercises

Russian Navy Vessels Arrive for a Goodwill Visit
The Russian Navy Vessels Admiral Tributs, a large anti-submarine ship; and Boris Butoma, a large sea tanker, headed by Rear Adm. Eduard Mikhailov, Deputy Commander of Flotilla of Pacific Fleet of Russia, berthed here yesterday. The aforesaid Russian Navy vessels are here for a goodwill visit to the Philippines from Jan. 2 till Saturday, January 7.
This is the third time a Russian Navy vessel visited the Philippines. The first visit in January 2012, when Admiral Panteleyev, an anti-submarine destroyer; Boris Butoma, the same large Sea tanker; and Fotiy Krylov, a rescue tug were also welcomed at Pier 15, South Harbor, Manila. Likewise, in May 2016, Marshall Gelovani, a hydrographic vessel, also berthed in South Harbor, Manila for resupply and replenishment.
Philippine Navy (PN) vessel BRP Rajah Humabon (PS11) rendered customary meeting procedures at the vicinity of Corregidor Island, and escorted the vessels to its designated berthing area. PN delegates accorded the visiting navy a welcome ceremony upon arrival followed by a port briefing for security and health aboard one of the Russian Navy vessels.
This five-day visit will include series of confidence building engagements between PN and Russian Navy personnel such as courtesy call on the Flag Officer in Command, PN by the Russian Ambassador to the Philippines, Igor Anatolyevich Khovaev; and Rear Adm. Mikhailov himself together with the ship's commanding officers. Likewise, tour to historical places within Manila and Cavite area, wreath laying ceremony, capability demonstration, open house to all civilians, shipboard tour aboard Russian vessels, receptions, goodwill games, and send-off ceremony were also scheduled.
This visit by Russian Navy and the fitting reception bestowed by PN will foster goodwill which will contribute in the furtherance of friendship of PN and Russian Navy, and enhance the maritime cooperation through naval diplomacy and camaraderie.
Russian Navy Vessels Arrive for a Goodwill Visit
The Russian Navy Vessels Admiral Tributs, a large anti-submarine ship; and Boris Butoma, a large sea tanker, headed by Rear Adm. Eduard Mikhailov, Deputy Commander of Flotilla of Pacific Fleet of Russia, berthed here yesterday. The aforesaid Russian Navy vessels are here for a goodwill visit to the Philippines from Jan. 2 till Saturday, January 7.
This is the third time a Russian Navy vessel visited the Philippines. The first visit in January 2012, when Admiral Panteleyev, an anti-submarine destroyer; Boris Butoma, the same large Sea tanker; and Fotiy Krylov, a rescue tug were also welcomed at Pier 15, South Harbor, Manila. Likewise, in May 2016, Marshall Gelovani, a hydrographic vessel, also berthed in South Harbor, Manila for resupply and replenishment.
Philippine Navy (PN) vessel BRP Rajah Humabon (PS11) rendered customary meeting procedures at the vicinity of Corregidor Island, and escorted the vessels to its designated berthing area. PN delegates accorded the visiting navy a welcome ceremony upon arrival followed by a port briefing for security and health aboard one of the Russian Navy vessels.
This five-day visit will include series of confidence building engagements between PN and Russian Navy personnel such as courtesy call on the Flag Officer in Command, PN by the Russian Ambassador to the Philippines, Igor Anatolyevich Khovaev; and Rear Adm. Mikhailov himself together with the ship's commanding officers. Likewise, tour to historical places within Manila and Cavite area, wreath laying ceremony, capability demonstration, open house to all civilians, shipboard tour aboard Russian vessels, receptions, goodwill games, and send-off ceremony were also scheduled.
This visit by Russian Navy and the fitting reception bestowed by PN will foster goodwill which will contribute in the furtherance of friendship of PN and Russian Navy, and enhance the maritime cooperation through naval diplomacy and camaraderie.

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Story highlights

  • Russian admiral says wider war games possible with Philippines, China, Malaysia
  • Chinese aircraft carrier conducts drills in South China Sea

(CNN)Two Russian warships arrived in the Philippines this week as Moscow looks to play a bigger role in the contested South China Sea.

The Russian destroyer Admiral Tributs and the sea tanker Boris Butomato, arrived in Manila on Tuesday for what the Philippine Navy termed a goodwill visit.
Philippine Navy public affairs officer Lued Lincuna said there would be no joint exercises in the next five days, however, the idea of future joint exercises is under discussion.
    According to a report from Russia's state-run Sputnik News, Russian Navy Rear Adm. Eduard Mikhailov said the Russian ships would be conducting joint exercises with Philippine forces to fight maritime piracy and terrorism.
    Officials held a press briefing during what was described as a "goodwill visit."
    The Sputnik report termed the exercises "an unprecedented navy-to-navy contact" between Russia and the Philippines.
    A report from the Russian website RT.com, however, said the "Russian marines are expected to discuss and share tactics" with an eye toward future joint exercises.
    The Russians received a warm welcome in the Philippines, a former US territory and longtime US ally.
    Any snap naval exercises between the two are unlikely, said Carl Schuster, a professor at Hawaii Pacific University and former director of operations at the US Pacific Command's Joint Intelligence Center. He said the Russian Navy uses a unique signaling system which makes communication difficult with other navies when operating in the close proximity needed in exercises.
    "Maneuvering naval ships in close proximity can lead to costly collisions if there is any misunderstanding about the signaled maneuver and speed," Schuster said in an email to CNN.
    The Philippines is a former US territory and longtime US ally whose ties with Washington have become strained since President Rodrigo Duterte took office.
    Ties between Russia and the Philippines have tightened under new Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte.
    Duterte has said his country could look to Russia for military support, including arms purchases, as relations with Washington have soured.
    Mikhailov said Russia would look to increase involvement in the South China Sea, where islands and shoals are subject to competing claims from China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei.
    But Mikailov said Russia could be involved in joint military exercises that involved not only the Philippines, but also China and Malaysia, according to the Sputnik report.
    "Maintaining the involvement of these regional partners is crucial for ensuring the stability of the South China Sea, where competing territorial claims continue to fuel geopolitical tensions," the Sputnik report said.
    Tensions in the area have ratcheted up in the past two years as China has reclaimed land in massive dredging operations in the Spratly Islands, turning sandbars into islands equipped with airfields, weapons systems, ports and lighthouses.
    Russian ships, including the Admiral Tributs, staged joint live-fire exercises with Chinese units in the South China Sea last September.
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    China continued to highlight its South China Sea presence this week, announcing that its lone aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, had been conducting drills involving J-15 fighter jets and helicopters, according to a report from the state-run Xinhua news agency.
    The agency's website featured a gallery of photos from the exercises.
    The South China Sea are the latest in a cruise of the Liaoning that saw it venture into the open Pacific for the first time in late December.
    The Pacific leg of the cruise took the carrier and its escorts past Japan and Taiwan, both of which took notice.
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    "The threat of our enemy is growing day by day. We should always be maintaining our combat alertness," said Taiwan Defense Minister Feng Shih-Kuan.
    "We are taking notice of this event, which indicates China is expanding its ability to engage in maritime warfare," Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.