Dobro pozhalovat, Varyag!
THIS WEEK ON PEOPLEASIA - Babe Romualdez (The Philippine Star) - April 30, 2017 - 12:00am

For the second time this year, Russian vessels docked at the port of Manila — signaling closer ties between the Philippines and Russia. The large sea tanker Pechenga and the guided missile cruiser Varyag were here on a four-day visit as part of their broader naval mission across the Asia Pacific region.

Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev hosted a dinner reception on board Varyag — a Slava-class cruiser built in 1979, which was launched in July 1983 and commissioned in October 1989. A band of Russian sailors, who sang Russian songs and played musical instruments, was well-appreciated by guests especially those from the Embassy of the Russian Federation.

Varyag, which is a flagship of the Russian Pacific Fleet (also called the Red Banner Pacific Fleet), is 186.4-m. long with a speed of 32 knots (59 kmh or 37 mph) and armed with P-500 Bazalt anti-ship missiles, long-range surface-to-air missiles, anti-submarine mortars and AK-130 dual purpose guns, among several other weapons. Varyag also serves as a carrier for Ka-25 and Ka-27 helicopters.

During President Duterte’s tour of the Varyag accompanied by Capt. Alexsei Ulyanenko, commander of the Russian warship, and joined by Ambassador Khovaev and National Security Adviser Jun Esperon, he told the Russians (who posed with the President’s trademark closed fist salute) that they were “welcome” to dock in Manila “anytime.”

The President is scheduled to visit Moscow on May 25 upon the invitation of Russian president Vladimir Putin. The two leaders met during the APEC Leaders’ Meeting in Peru last November. - Photos by Ramon Joseph J. Ruiz

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