Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte recently lambasted a US official for meddling in a current deal that the country is negotiating with Russia for the purchase of the first ever submarines for the Philippine Navy. This comes at a time when Russia and The Philippines are looking to expand their security and anti-terror partnership with an emphasis on Russia advising The Philippines on how to modernise its long neglected Navy. Now, Russian officials have weighed into the row in joining Duterte in criticising America’s extraordinary intervention into the legal and normal bilateral affairs of The Philippines and its new Russian partner. According to a statement from the Russian Embassy in The Philippines:
“The Russian Federation has never made comments on foreign relations of the Philippines. And we do not intend to do it in the future. At the same time we expect other countries to do likewise and to refrain from interfering into the relations of the Russian Federation and the Republic of the Philippines as two independent sovereign states and equal partners.
The defense cooperation between Russia and the Philippines is a matter of bilateral relations and does not involve any third country in any way. This cooperation is in full compliance with all existing international arms control regimes. We believe it meets strategic interests of the Philippine nation and will definitely contribute to the regional peace and stability.
We can not but note the outrageous remarks of Mr. Schriver [a US official who criticised the Russo-Philippine submarine deal] about Russia itself whose Government he called “regime”. It is worthwile to remind Mr. Schriver that such term is used for those rulers who swept into power through coup d’état or other unlawful means. Just like it happened in Ukraine in 2014 when the radical nationalists sponsored by the USA and European Union put into power a regime that triggered a civil war in the eastern part of this country.
In Russia, unlike in the United States of America, all heads of executive and legislative bodies from the level of municipality to the federal level are elected by direct democratic vote. There are no countries that refused to recognize the results of any elections in Russia.
As for the so called “laundry list”, such preposterous claims do not hold water. Those are all groundless speculations.
It was the will of more than 2 million Crimean residents who voted at open and free referendum to become again a part of their historic homeland – Russia and, therefore, to prevent the deployment of American military bases in the peninsula. Their will must be respected. Anyone doubting that it was a voluntary decision
of the people is welcome in Crimea to see for himself/herself.
Alleged “chemical attack” is just a string of accusations bordering on the absurd in their lack of common sense or sense of reality. Since March 2018 we have heard a lot about the so-called Skripal case but no results of the actual investigation were shown to the public.
We would like Mr. Schriver to be more specific and also give us American “laundry list”, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya which have not turned out to be beacons of democracy but became a breeding ground for terrorism. Under
the pretext of promoting democracy and protecting human rights countless horrendous crimes against humanity have been committed in those countries.
The American defense official mentioned the issue of interoperability of military equipment. Such a problem does exist but its extent is exaggerated. Experience of other countries shows that this obstacle could be overcome. On the other hand, the matter that should be of grave concern is mental interoperability.
The mentoring of Mr. Schriver is an example of this. The mental interoperability could be only achieved by letting go of outdated clichés, prejudices, and phobias.
Mr. Schriver’s interview may point to acute attack of colonial syndrome. It is another testament that this sickness as well as propensity to lecture other countries and give unsolicited advice is still prevalent in Washington. We believe it is high time for them to get over this predicament and face modern world as it is”.
As a great land power that never had an overseas colonial empire, Russia is unique among most military superpowers in that it never sought nor attempted to subjugate overseas territories during the course of its national development. While the legacy of American colonialism in The Philippines has exposed The Philippines to a wide variety of American culture and some much loved American products, it has also continued to retard the independent development of the country as many US officials continue to operate under the guise of the “colonial mentality” as defined by President Duterte who has engaged in the most independent and neutral foreign policy in modern Philippine history.
The lesson for The Philippines that can be derived from Washington’s vocal intervention into a private bilateral matter between Moscow and Manila is that a developing nation like The Philippines should have as many diverse international partnerships as possible so as to not become overly reliant on the whims of any single power. One of the many reasons that China is well placed to whether the storm of the current US trade war is because China has a vast array of economic partnerships across the globe. Therefore, while losing the US market (even if temporarily) as a reliable export and investment market will certainly be noticed, China can simply enhance its other partnerships so that the effects of Washington’s economic hostility are minimised.
While China’s world leading economic status has made many of its partnerships possible, even countries that are further behind in their national develop can pursue relations with as many foreign partners as possible. The Philippines must be aware that if the submarine deal with Moscow goes through, the US could easily retaliate in the form of some level of sanctions or even tariffs. Because of this, it is important for The Philippines to prepare for this through a rapidly intensified expansion of its foreign partners with the Russian superpower being one of many new important partners The Philippines can work to secure.
While the Russian statement targeted the US for trying to interfere in its bilateral relations with another nation, the statement also was a clear appeal to a Filipino audience. The Russian statement alluded in quite direct language to the colonial mentality opposed by President Duterte while also helping to highlight issues where the US has espoused false narratives about Russia’s foreign policy in western Eurasia.
On the whole, the statement was a sign that Russia takes its partnership with The Philippines very seriously in spite of the fact that it remains in its early stages. This in turn should be understood in the wider context of America’s lack of reliability as a consistent partner in an age where tariffs and sanctions have replaced diplomacy as America’s primary tools of foreign relations.
Therefore, recent events have merely helped to clarify the long existing reality that if The Philippines is going to advance the course of its internal and security development, it must never put all its foreign partnership eggs in a single basket.