Philippines’ Duterte in Moscow to Meet ‘Favorite Leader’ Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with his Philippine counterpart Rodrigo Duterte during a meeting in Moscow late on May 23, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / MAXIM SHEMETOV (Photo credit should read MAXIM SHEMETOV/AFP/Getty Images)
MAXIM SHEMETOV/AFP/Getty Images

President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte arrived in Moscow in the wee hours of Wednesday morning for a visit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Duterte and an array of support staff touched down around 3 a.m. at the Vnukovo Military Base Airport for his second attempt at a diplomatic visit with President Vladimir Putin. He will remain in Russia for the remainder of the week, returning on Saturday.

Accompanying Duterte are corporate representatives and businessmen, who will participate in a business forum arranged by the Department of Trade and Industry for this visit.

For his part, Duterte will meet with Putin, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, and Jordanian King Abdullah II. He is further scheduled to tour the Kremlin Palace, and accept an honorary doctorate from The Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

This visit will be Duterte’s fourth official encounter with Putin, whom he has called his “idol” and “favorite leader.” Their relationship began in 2016, following Duterte’s election during the “Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation” trade summit in Peru.

Trade between the two countries will stand at the forefront of Duterte’s work in Moscow, though the presence of Filipino security officials suggests that purchasing Russian arms is also on the itinerary. In the past, Duterte and Putin have spoken of national defense cooperation, including the purchase of defense assets – and opening ports to one another’s military.

Duterte’s previous attempt at a diplomatic mission to Russia was disrupted when violence between Islamic State terrorists and the military brought martial law to the Mindanao Province in the southern Philippines, in what is now known as the Siege of Marawi. Duterte is native to Mindanao, one of the islands with the largest Muslim populations in the country, and served as mayor of its Davao City for 22 years before becoming president.

The Filipino president recently made less diplomatic headlines for claiming – and then quickly walking back – that he had ordered a hit on former Daanbantayan mayor Vincente Loot in 2018, expressing disappointment that the “son of a bitch” survived.

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