Manila, Philippines. In an amazing coincedence, a Russian naval battle group has arrived in the Philippines, just as a US Navy carrier attack group heads for the Korean peninsula to confront the North Korean leader Kin Jong-un.

The Russian navy vessels arrived in the Philippines on Thursday for joint exercises as part of a program of new security ties under President Rodrigo Duterte’s foreign policy of courting the traditional foes of Manila’s top ally, Washington.

The guided-missile cruiser Varyag, accompanied by the fuel tanker ship, Pechenge, are on a four-day goodwill visit to the Philippines, the second port call by Russian warships in recent memory.

President Duterte describes this as a pursuit of a constitutionally mandated “independent foreign policy”. He has made no secret of his grudge against the United States and has made good relations with Russia and China the priority of his diversification drive.

The schedule includes training and sports activities with the flagship vessel of the Russian Pacific fleet, plus a Russian concert in a park. Russian navy commander Captain Alexsei Ulyanenko said the port call would make a “significant contribution” to strengthening relations and maintaining stability in the region.

The Russian Putin administration wants to help Manila combat extremism and piracy, stepping up cooperation and training in areas where the Philippines has traditionally worked closely with its former colonial master the United States.

From the Philippines perspective, Russia is providing a wide variety of weapon systems, training, and military products that are superior in quality to western military products. Often at prices lower than similar items from Abmerican producers.

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