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Philippine Navy to send 300-man contingent to Russia for visit

MANILA, July 14 (Xinhua) — A Philippine Navy strategic sealift vessel with 300 sailors and marines on board will leave for Russia’s Vladivostok on Monday to participate in the naval parade during the Russian Navy Day celebration.

A send-off ceremony for the contingent is scheduled on Monday morning, the navy said, adding this will be the second time that a Philippine Navy vessel will visit Russia.

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In October last year, a naval vessel visited Russia’s Pacific Fleet headquarters in Vladivostok, with 440 sailors and marines on board for a five-day goodwill visit.

Last month saw a flurry of high-level exchanges between Philippine and Russian military, defense and diplomatic officials to discuss “military to military-technical cooperation,” defense cooperation, and “political consultations.”

The 11th Philippines-Russia political consultations was held at Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mansion in Moscow, on June 18.

Philippine Foreign Undersecretary Enrique Manalo led the delegation that met with the Russian delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov.

According to a statement issued by the Philippine Embassy in Moscow, both sides “identified at least 20 action points that will further deepen cooperation between the two countries.”

Philippine National Security Adviser and Director General of the National Security Council Secretary Hermogenes Esperon also visited Moscow in June to discuss how to enhance security cooperation between the two nations.

“While much had been achieved in past years towards the enhancement of security cooperation between the security and law-enforcement agencies of both countries, more avenues were nonetheless explored, including the conduct of regular dialogues at various levels, information-sharing, and capacity-building activities,” Esperon said after his Moscow visit.

Last month, Philippine defense officials attended an international military and technical forum held in Moscow’s Patriot Park. The annual event gathered 65 military delegations, 20 of which were headed by defense ministers, the Philippine Embassy said in a statement.

Indeed, the navies of the Philippines and Russia have taken their naval cooperation to a new level by conducting more joint training exercises and port visits starting this year.

The Russian Navy’s anti-submarine ships Admiral Tributs and Admiral Vinogradov, and large sea tanker Irkut docked in Manila in April for a five-day goodwill visit. That was the second visit by the Russian warships in the country this year.

In January, the guided missile cruiser Varyag, the flagship of Russia’s Pacific Fleet, the large anti-submarine ship Admiral Panteleev and the large sea tanker Bris Butoma also docked in Manila for a six-day “unofficial” visit.

The visit by the Russian Navy ships in April was the eighth to the Philippines and the sixth under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who took office in June 2016.

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