Russia donates thousands of guns to Philippines

Rodrigo Duterte and Vladimir Putin during a meeting in Moscow in May

Russia is set to donate thousands of weapons to the Philippines – aiding the southeast Asian country’s fight against pro-Islamic State fighters.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said 5,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles are included in the deal, meaning his military will no longer have to use second-hand arms.

In an announcement, he said the nation needed to bolster its arsenal because militants could regroup and attack “anywhere and everywhere”.

The rifles will be accompanied by millions of rounds of ammunition and dozens of army trucks.

In a speech to soldiers, President Duterte revealed Russia had wanted to keep the donation a secret.

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The gift from Moscow follows China’s donation of more than 6,000 assault rifles and 100 sniper rifles, as Mr Duterte seeks to form partnerships with the arms-producing nations.

The handouts come despite the US being the Philippines’ defence treaty ally for decades.

It has been the Philippines’ biggest source for hardware and training, providing about £750m in equipment since 2000.

Philippine forces marching in Mindanao as they fight pro-Islamic State militants

Philippine forces marching in Mindanao as they fight pro-Islamic State militants

But Mr Duterte has made no secret of his rocky relationship with Washington in the past, notably taking a swipe at Barack Obama and calling him a “son of a whore” last year.

The Philippine President’s controversial comment came after he was asked how he would explain himself if Mr Obama raised questions about the extrajudicial killings of suspected drug offenders.

Thousands have been killed since he launched his controversial war on drugs in 2016.

Speaking about the latest donation, a senior defence official said the weapons would arrive later this month when Russia’s defence minister visits the country.

Mr Duterte says the military needed to be properly equipped to handle Islamic State loyalists who established a foothold in the Mindanao region in the south.

The Russian embassy declined to comment on Duterte’s announcement.

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