MANILA (UPDATE)—President Rodrigo Duterte arrived in Russia early Wednesday morning to kick off his weeklong visit in the country upon the invitation of its leader Vladimir Putin.
Duterte arrived at the Vnukovo Military Base Airport in Moscow at 8:25 a.m. (Manila time) and was welcomed by Russian officials Andrey Igorevich, deputy director of the State Protocol Department, and Anatoly Borovik, deputy director of Third Asian Department.
This is Duterte's second trip to Russia following his first visit in May 2017, which was cut short due to a terror attack in southern Philippines that forced him to come home earlier than scheduled.
Duterte will use his second visit to "broaden Philippines-Russia cooperation" in trade and economics, defense and military, health, and science and technology, among others, according to Malacañang.
"The President hopes to have a robust, comprehensive and mutually-beneficial partnership with Russia," Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
The Philippine president is expected to join other leaders in the forum of prominent Russian think tank Valdai Discussion Club, where he is expected to deliver a speech on the theme “The World Order Seen From the East."
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier said Duterte's upcoming participation would mark the first time that a Philippine president was invited to speak at the forum of the Russian think tank closely associated with Putin.
"He (Duterte) is expected to give his perspective or vision of the world order as it is emerging right now and how this relates to Philippine foreign policy," Chief of Presidential Protocol Robert Eric Borje earlier said.
Duterte will also hold a bilateral meeting with Putin, who he had described in the past as his "favorite hero," and a separate bilateral discussion with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
Duterte and Putin are expected to witness the signing of several bilateral agreements covering the areas of culture, health and basic research.
Aside from his speech, Duterte is also expected to give a "brief lecture" at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, one of the top universities in Russia for international, political, legal and economic studies.
He is also scheduled to meet with the Filipino community in Russia, estimated to be around 7,000, before returning to the Philippines.
The Philippines and Russia have pursued closer ties under the Duterte administration, with Manila receiving defense equipment from Moscow and the latter eyeing closer trade relations.
The President assigned Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra as government caretaker and officer-in-charge until his return to Manila on Sunday, October 6.