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James D.J. Brown: How Moscow's 'look east' policy can help Southeast Asia

Russian ties promise a counterweight against Chinese and US influence

Despite being cut short by a crisis in Mindanao, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's visit to Russia in late May highlighted warming ties between Moscow and some Southeast Asian countries. In total, 10 government-level deals were signed between Russia and the Philippines, including agreements on nuclear energy, agriculture and tourism, as well as commercial agreements worth close to $1 billion. An eye-catching defense pact was also sealed, opening the way for military exchanges and for the Philippines to procure Russian arms.

The visit marked an important step forward in bilateral relations and gave insights into Duterte's emerging independent foreign policy. Of broader significance, however, is the way these strengthening ties underscore a recent shift in Moscow's foreign policy that places much greater emphasis on Southeast Asia.

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