The flagship of Russia’s Pacific Fleet arrived in Manila today (Thursday, April 20) for a four-day goodwill visit.
The arrival of the guided-missile cruiser Varyag, along with fuel tanker ship, Pechenge, is the second port call by Russian warships in three months.
The move is part of President Duterte’s drive for an “independent foreign policy”, pivoting away from the country’s long-standing ally the USA and towards Moscow and Beijing.
Philippine Navy spokesman Captain Lued Lincuna said they hoped to learn from the Russians during training activities and a demonstration of advanced weapons systems.
The schedule includes training and sports activities plus a public concert in Luneta Park.
Russian commander Captain Alexsei Ulyanenko said the port call would make a “significant contribution” to strengthening relations and maintaining stability in the region.
Moscow wants to help Manila combat extremism and piracy, stepping up cooperation and training in areas where the Philippines has traditionally worked closely with the USA.
The relationship is expected to develop further next month when Duterte and Vladimir Putin witness the signing of defence agreements in Moscow.
When Duterte met the Russian president last year, the he spoke at length about what he called “US hypocrisy”.
The Varyag is the third ship of the Slava-class of guided-missile cruisers built for the Soviet Navy serving the Russian Navy.
She was launched in July 1983 and commissioned on Oct. 16, 1989, and is commanded by Capt. Alexsei U. Ulyanenko.
The Varyag has a displacement of 11,490 tons and has a length of 611.5 feet and a draft of 27.6 feet. Its propulsion system consists of four COGOG gas turbines, with two shafts giving it a top speed of 32 knots and a range of 10,000 nautical miles.
It is armed with a variety of anti-ship, anti-aircraft and anti-submarines missiles and gun systems.