MANILA (UPDATE)- President Rodrigo Duterte left for Russia on Tuesday night, his second trip to the country after his 2017 visit.
Duterte left the Ninoy Aquino International Airport around 9 p.m. and is expected to arrive at 4 a.m. (Manila time) at the Vnukovo Military Base Airport in Moscow, Russia.
Malacañang earlier announced that Duterte's visit was upon the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
During his visit, the Philippine president is expected to join other leaders in a forum organized by 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."
Duterte's participation marks the first time that a Philippine president has been 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."
"In Sochi, I will meet President Putin to take stock of the state of our bilateral relations. We will identify ways of further intensifying cooperation areas of security and defense, combatting terrorism and violent extremism, and addressing transnational crimes," Duterte said before his departure.
The 2 leaders are expected to witness the signing of bilateral agreements covering the areas of culture, health, and basic research, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.
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.
Duterte first flew to Russia in May 2017 but had to cut his trip short after Islamic State-inspired local terror group Maute attacked parts of Marawi City. He subsequently placed the southern Philippines under martial law.
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.