Philippines says US sanctions no obstacle to Russian arms deal
Manila reportedly agreed for the first time to buy weapons from Moscow as Duterte pivots to America’s competitors
Following the revelation that Manila agreed last October to buy Russian-made arms from a firm blacklisted by the US, the Philippines says that sanctions are no obstacle.
“I don’t know how US law would be applicable to a transaction that will be done outside of the United States,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told reporters on Thursday, per PhilStar Global.
The US$7.48 million deal to purchase rocket propelled grenade launchers from Russia was reported by Reuters on Wednesday, but the transfer has yet to be completed. Though Manila has previously received donated weapons from Moscow, if completed, the deal would mark the Philippines’ first ever purchase of Russian weapons.
The procurement would violate US sanctions that were imposed on Russia for the 2014 annexation of Crimea, it’s support for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime and alleged meddling in the 2016 election, according to Reuters.
Roque was unequivocal that the Philippines had no obligation to adhere to the US sanctions regime.
“We have immunity, and we are free to enter into contracts as we please, and we are not bound by any domestic law especially if the transaction will not occur on US soil,” he said.
Since taking office, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has worked to forge closer ties with traditional strategic competitors of the United States, a long-time treaty ally of the Philippines.