Russia was a key player in the nineteenth-century Great Game, and now it appears to be toeing the waters of the modern, sea-based version. Three Russian ships docked yesterday in the Philippines, including the anti-submarine warship Admiral Panteleyev. Russia’s envoy to the Philippines emphasized the cooperative and peaceful nature of the visit:
I’m confident that the contacts between our navies reflect our countries’ commitment to countering common challenges and threats. Whenever you need our advice and experience, we will be most welcome to extend it. Naturally, we would not like to interfere or to impose in any way our will upon China and the Philippines. They are both our friends and partners.
Russia also recently sent thirty tons of food and supplies to the Philippines to help with reconstruction after the recent earthquake.No doubt some analysts out there will see Moscow’s deepening civil and military cooperation with the Philippines as a threat to the United States. Quite the opposite. Far from seeking to dominate Asia or the Pacific, Washington seeks balance and encourages the involvement of many nations in issues of common concern. This kind of multifaceted balance of power is what we like to see: The Philippines is an American ally, in periodic conflict with China over the South China Sea, with a well-armed Russian warship as an occasional visitor to its ports.From an American perspective, Russia’s engagement in the Pacific is welcome: It will add a further counterweights to Asia’s increasingly crowded and well-balanced scales of power.