The United States on Thursday cautioned the Philippines against buying military equipment from Russia, saying it would not be helpful to their decades-long alliance.
Affirming its commitment as Manila’s strongest defense ally, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver visited the country to meet with top Filipino defense and military officials.
“I think they should think very carefully about that,” Schriver said as quoted by local media.
Defense Chief Delfin Lorenzana last week revealed Manila’s plan to procure two submarines from Moscow.
“If they were to proceed with purchasing major Russian equipment, I don’t think that it’s a helpful thing to the alliance, and ultimately, I think we can be a better partner than the Russians can be to the Philippines,” he added.
Schriver noted that the move does not only mean buying a capability but investing in a relationship.
“Finding U.S. platforms and U.S. solutions helps us continue our interoperability, helps us improve our ability to operate in all kinds of scenarios,” he said.
Washington also assured Manila of its support should conflict in the disputed South China Sea erupt.
“We’ll be a good ally, and we’ll help the Philippines respond accordingly,” he said.
He also commented on recent reports about a U.S. Navy plane flying above the South China Sea which was asked by the Chinese military to leave.
“We’ll fly, sail and operate where international law allows,” Schriver said.
“We’ll not allow them to rewrite the rules of the road or change international law.”
Aside from the South China Sea, Schriver’s discussions with Filipino officials included the bilateral defense and military relationship, counter-terrorism and the U.S.’ plan to support the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.