Russian Navy sees no conflict with ‘Balikatan’ in Manila visit
MANILA, Philippines — The head of mission of the visiting Russian Navy contingent said there was no conflict between its port call and that of the ongoing Philippines-US “Balikatan” (shoulder to shoulder) military exercises.
The three-vessel contingent from Russia’s Pacific Fleet arrived at Manila’s South Harbor on Monday for a five-day goodwill visit.
Capt. Sergey Alantiev heads the Russian contingent comprised of the antisubmarine warships Admiral Tributs and Vinogradov and sea tanker Irkut.
“We want to inform you that we have outstanding relations and good rapport with the United States Navy, and all efforts aimed at peace and stability in the region, be it Russian or American, are efforts in the name of peace and stability and serve the same purpose,” Alantiev said through an interpreter.
When the Russian Navy planned the visit with the Philippine Navy, Alantiev said they did not discuss the country’s exercises with US military units.
“In fact, I only found out that it’s going on very recently. But since it doesn’t prevent us from carrying out this visit in any way [and] it doesn’t create any inconvenience, we decided to carry out [the visit],” he said.
The Russian vessels will be in the country until April 13, while the 12-day Balikatan exercises will run until April 12.
Capt. Constancio Reyes Jr., education and training staff officer of the Philippine Navy, said the arrival of the Russian Navy contingent would improve cooperation between the two navies.
“The arrival of our Russian Navy counterparts underscores the continuing efforts to further strengthen the relationship between our governments and navies,” Reyes said.
Alantiev noted the significance of their visit on the eve of “Araw ng Kagitingan.”
“I find it highly symbolic that this visit occurs on the eve of the Day of Valor. We consider ourselves honored to be able to pay our deep respects to the World War II veterans of the Philippines,” he said. —Jeannette I. Andrade
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