Philippine President Rodrigo
Duterte on Wednesday announced that Russia would donate defence
hardware to support the military’s fight against pro-Islamic
State militants, who he said could regroup and attack “anywhere
and everywhere”.

Duterte said Russia would provide about 5,000 assault rifles
in a deal to be signed this month, and the Philippine military
would no longer have to use second-hand arms.

“We will have the Kalashnikov,” he said in a speech to
troops, adding that Russia wanted to keep the donation secret.

Moscow’s gift would follow China’s donation of more than
6,000 assault rifles and 100 sniper rifles, among the fruits of
Duterte’s efforts to form partnerships with two arms-producing
powers that are rivals to the United States.

The United States has for decades been the Philippines’
defence treaty ally and its biggest source or hardware and
training, providing about $1 billion in equipment since 2000.
Duterte has made no secret of his animosity towards Washington
and his disdain for the U.S. military alliance.

A senior defence official told Reuters the Russian weapons
would arrive later this month, when Russia’s defence minister
attends a regional meeting. The rifles would be accompanied by
millions of rounds of ammunition and dozens of army trucks.

Five Russian warships were due to visit in Manila to deliver
the equipment, the official said. Four have visited the country
this year, in two separate visits.

Duterte said the military needed to be properly equipped to
handle Islamic State loyalists who had established a dangerous
foothold in Mindanao in the south.

“They will not disappear, they will regroup anywhere and
everywhere,” Duterte said. – Reuters