By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
National Security Adviser (NSA) Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said the Philippines will push through with the procurement of Russian arms as the United States did not make the said items available to the Philippines.
Esperon made the statement despite the US policy, sanctioning countries purchasing military equipment from Russia.
Esperon, in a text message to the Manila Bulletin, confirmed that an order was made for some items.
“There’s an order placed for some items. It’s a go since US did not make it available to us,” Esperon told the Manila Bulletin.
It was earlier reported that the Philippines is at risk of breaching sanctions by the US over the country’s reported purchase of 750 RPG-7B rocket-propelled grenade launchers from Russia’s state-owned Rosoroboron export at the price of P400 million.
According to Esperon, other countries also bought defense hardware from Rosoroboron export, yet they were not sanctioned.
“By the way, India has bought up to 200 fighter jets from Russia. Yet India was not sanctioned,” he said. He earlier said that Malaysia and Indonesia also procured their fighter jets from Russia
Esperon said it is only Rosoboron export that is the authorized exporter for the Russian Federation.
The US sanctions were imposed since last year against any country trading with Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors. This is to punish Russia for its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, support for Syria’s government, and alleged meddling in the 2016 US elections.
While committing to study the matter early this week, Malacañang is wondering how US laws affect the country’s procurement of military hardware from Russia.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said that he does not know how can such US laws affect something that is not happening inside US territory.
“I do not know how US law could be applicable to a transaction that will be done outside the United States. The sale will be most likely in Russia, the goods are in Russia, and the delivery in the Philippines. So what is the relevance of US laws?” he said.
“The Philippines is a sovereign state. We have immunity, and we are free to enter into contracts as we please, and we are not bound by any domestic law particularly where the transaction will not occur in US soil,” he added.
US may ease up on sanctions
On Friday in Washington, D.C., US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis spoke in support of waivers for sanctions being imposed against nations buying military gear from Russia.
The move comes amid concerns that imposing sanctions, particularly in the case of India and other Asian allies, could threaten friendly relationships that the US has been working to bolster in recent years.
India, the world’s top defense importer, has purchased Russian military hardware and expertise for decades, and has been in talks with Moscow to buy S-400 long range surface-to-air missile systems.
Last year, US lawmakers, seeking to punish Russia for its efforts to undermine Western democracy, passed the Counter America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA.
“Russia should suffer consequences for its aggressive, destabilizing behavior and its illegal occupation of Ukraine,” Mattis said in a statement.
“However, as we impose necessary and well-deserved costs for their malign behavior, providing the Secretary of State with a CAATSA waiver authority is imperative.”
Under CAATSA, any entity doing business with Russia’s state, semi-state and private defense and intelligence sectors could face economic sanctions. (With a report from AFP)