President Rodrigo Duterte receives a token from Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev following their bilateral meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Moscow on Oct. 2, 2019. ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Duterte and his party arrived early Wednesday at Moscow’s Vnukovo International Airport to begin his second state visit to Russia, highlighted by meetings with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and President Vladimir Putin.

“Our leader views his latest trip as an auspicious opportunity to deepen our ties with the Russian Federation. He further considers this second visit as a good occasion to broaden Philippines-Russia cooperation in a wide range of areas including trade and economics, defense and military, health and science and technology, among others,” Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said.

He noted that under Duterte’s watch, the two countries witnessed a “dramatic re-invigoration” of relations since diplomatic ties began in June 1976.

President Duterte, Panelo said, hopes to have a “robust, comprehensive and mutually beneficial partnership” with Russia under Putin.

A bilateral meeting will be held between the two leaders, along with the signing of agreements in Sochi, also the venue of the Valdai International Discussion Club, where Duterte is expected to share Philippine perspectives on the current world order.

On Wednesday, President Duterte met Russian Prime Minister Medvedev, whom he first met on the sidelines of the Asean Summit in Vientiane, Laos in September 2016, and later in Manila for the 50th Asean Summit in November 2017.

Duterte is also expected to talk with leading Russian business leaders in Moscow.

Out of 221 countries, Russia is the Philippines’ 21st largest trading partner, 34th export market, and 19th import supplier.

President Duterte will also speak about the Philippines’s “independent foreign policy” before Russia’s future diplomats at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, a standout among Russian universities in international, political, legal and economic studies.

He is also scheduled to meet with the Filipino community in Russia. There are 6,900 Filipinos in the Russian Federation as of December 2018.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra was appointed government caretaker until Sunday, Oct. 6. (Melo M. Acuña)