By Jerold Tagbo
Eagle News Service
A Russian warship and a sea tanker arrived in the country on Thursday, amid the growing relationship between the two countries.
The Slava-class guided missile cruiser Varyag docked at Pier 15 in Manila South Harbor past 9 a.m.
Sea tanker Pechenga remained afloat in the middle of Manila Bay.
Philippine Navy officials conducted a welcome ceremony for the Russian Navy contingent, headed by Capt. Alexsei Ulyanenko, the concurrent task group commander and commanding officer of Varyag, the flagship of the Russian Navy’s Pacific fleet.
The 186.4-meter ship—which became part of the Pacific fleet in 1990— is equipped with cruise missiles, anti-aircraft guns and torpedo tubes, among others.
It also has 3D search and fire control radars, and can carry KA-25 and KA-27 helicopters.
The Russian crew will engage in a series of activities with their Filipino counterparts such as goodwill games.
On Saturday, the public will also have a chance to tour the ship.
A cultural presentation will be held in Luneta Park on Sunday.
The culminating activity of the goodwill visit is a passing exercise and a send-off ceremony by the Philippine Navy.
This is the second time a Russian ship visited the country.
Last January, anti-submarine ship Admiral Tributs arrived in Manila for a weeklong visit.
The goodwill visits came after President Rodrigo Duterte announced the Philippines would follow an independent foreign policy that would veer away from the policy of its traditional ally, the United States.
Next month, President Duterte is expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a bid to further the countries’ bilateral relations, particularly in the area of defense.