Duterte to undertake first official visit to Russia

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is slated to conduct an official visit to Russia from May 23 to 26, 2017 upon the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In a pre-departure briefing in Malacañang on Friday, May 19, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Assistant Secretary Maria Cleofe Natividad said President Duterte’s upcoming visit to Russia is expected to mark a new chapter in the bilateral relations between the Philippines and Russia.

“We also see this visit as an indication of our strong common desire to enhance and strengthen bilateral relations,” Natividad said, noting that the bilateral ties between the two countries is still at a “nascent stage” despite celebrating 40 years of bilateral ties last year.

“The relations can be best described as cordial, albeit, modest in scope and depth. Thus, we consider this visit as a landmark that will send a strong message of the Philippines’ commitment to seek new partnerships and strengthen relations with non-traditional partners such as Russia,” Natividad said.

In his visit, President Duterte is scheduled to have a bilateral meeting with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Russian President Vladimir Putin, which will be held on the 24th and the 25th of May, the first and second day of the official visit.

“There, he will be discussing important issues and areas of cooperation and economic partnership with Prime Minister Medvedev and with President Putin on the cooperation in political, military and defense,” she said.

According to Natividad, several bilateral agreements are expected to be signed during the President’s visit to Russia.

“These agreements are those related to defense, security, legal assistance, trade and investment, peaceful use of nuclear energy and culture,” she said.

These include defense cooperation, military and technical cooperation, the treaty on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters; treaty on extradition; an MOU on cooperation in the field of security between respective national security councils.