A United States defense official advised the Philippines to carefully review its plan in acquiring a submarine from Russia in the light of existing US-PH relations.
US Assistant Secretary of Defense Randall Schriver said the procurement of the Philippine Navy of a special underwater craft from Russia should be assessed in terms of the longtime alliances between the US and the Philippines.
“I think they should think very carefully about that,” Schriver said.
Last week, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had said that Russia is willing to provide soft loans to the Philippine government for the acquisition of a first-ever submarine for the Philippine Navy.
He said that Philippine Navy chief Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad was already preparing to send its sailors where the submarine could be procured, for study and training on submarine operations preparatory to the acquisition of the sophisticated naval craft.
Schriver said acquiring future submarines from Russia intended for the Philippine military would be awkward because of the decades-long US-PH alliance.
“If they would have to proceed with purchasing major Russian equipment, I don’t think that’s a helpful thing to the alliance and ultimately, I think we can be better partner that the Russians can be to the Philippine people,” Schriver said.
The US defense official added that inserting a Russian submarine to Philippine Navy’s inventory would somehow affect its capability in the future in case it operates side-by-side with US forces to address security challenges.
US and Philippine military forces have been conducting annual exercises using US-acquired equipment, even as Washington plans to transfer defense articles to its allies and partners of US standard equipment under the Foreign Military Sales.
“Well, when you buy weapons systems particularly major platforms, you’re not just buying capability, you’re investing in a relationship,” Schriver said.
Presently, ships and vessels being used by the Philippine Navy mostly originated from the United States while some were acquired from South Korea, Great Britain, Australia, Japan and Indonesia.
Schriver also explained that finding a US platform would be beneficial to both countries, especially in terms of interoperability in different scenarios.
“US solutions help us continue in our interoperability, help us improve our ability to operate in all kinds of scenarios,” he added.
“I think more than that, I mean let's understand the nature of this regime in Russia. I don’t need to go to the full laundry list…Crimea Ukraine, the chemical attack in the United Kingdom,” he said.
“So you are investing in not only platforms but making a statement about our relationship,” Schriver said.