Russia docked two of its destroyers and one tanker here on Monday for a "goodwill visit" as tensions begin to rise in the disputed South China Sea. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte recently warned China to stay away from the Thitu Island in the Spratly chain, which is controlled by Manila but claimed by Beijing. Philippines has alleged that hundreds of Chinese vessels, including military ships, have been spotted around the island since December, according to CNN.
"Let us be friends, but do not touch Pagasa (Thitu) Island and the rest...If you (China) make moves there, that's a different story. I will tell my soldiers, 'Prepare for suicide mission'," Duterte said recently. Russia and the Philippines are poised to sign a naval cooperation agreement, which will see more joint training exercises being conducted and reciprocal port visits. Philippines and China are just a few of the countries who claim ownership to large portions to the South China Sea.
(With inputs from agencies.)