As early as 19th century the rulers of Russia got interested in developing ties with the Southeast Asia countries. This interest was stemming from the necessity to ensure food and raw materials supply to the new territories of the Russian Empire in the Far East as communication between these remote areas and European part of the country was extremely difficult.
Irish born american, Peter Dobell, was the first businessman living in Southeast Asia who tried to promote relations with the Russian Far East, particularly Kamchatka Peninsula region. In 1813 Emperor Alexander the I-st endorsed Dobell’s plan on trade and development with Southeast Asia countries. In 1817 the Russian Government took a decision to establish a Russian Consulate General in Manila - the first Russian diplomatic mission in the region. Peter Dobell naturalized in Russia as Petr Vasilievich Dobel and has been appointed as the Consul General in the Philippines.
Launching an official Russian mission in Philippines was not an easy task as Spaniard colonial officials declined to recognize Russian diplomatic representation in Manila. However a compromise has been found and Peter Dobel has been allowed to stay and act in Manila as an unofficial representative of the Russian government in the Philippine islands.
The Russian consular mission has started to work at the end of the 19th century. But its activity was carried out mostly by merchants from France, the so-called “freelance consuls”, rather than Russians. This status of relation continued till 1917.
After the October Revolution contacts between Soviet Russia and the Philippines were maintained through Komintern, Prof-Intern (Red Labor Unions) and the Communist party of the USA (Philippines were then the colony of the USA). In 1928 the Congress of the Philippines workers (Congreso Obrero de Filipinas) joined Prof-Intern. In 1920’s and 1930’s militants from Philippine labor unions (several dozens of them) had underwent training in the USSR and participated in the international events of the global communist movement. For example, they took part in the 7th Congress of Komintern in 1935 as observers and attended other international conferences of the world labor union movement. Many of them joined the Communist party of the Philippines established in 1930. When this party had been outlawed some leaders remained prominent members of the leftist movement in the country. Due to restrictive policy of the Philippine colonial government contacts between communists of the Soviet Union and the Philippines gradually waned.
After gaining independence in 1946 the Philippines continued abstained policy and ignored diplomatic relations with socialist countries. In 1965 President Ferdinand Marcos opted a policy of balancing interaction with different countries including socialist ones aimed at opening up new markets for Philippines export.
In 1960's and 1970's the Philippines and the USSR exchanged delegations of parliament members, businessmen and non-governmental organizations. In 1972 Philippines – USSR Friendship Society was created. To jump-start trade between two countries a Philippine Foreign Trade Company was established in 1973.
In 1974 the Agreement on Cultural Cooperation between the Philippines and the USSR was signed.
On June 2, 1976 Ferdinand Marcos paid the first official visit to the USSR. Its main outcome was the Communiqué on the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Apart from this Agreement on Trade Cooperation and Agreement on Partnership between Chambers of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines and the USSR were signed in Moscow.
Following the dissolution of the USSR, the responsibilities and obligations of the Soviet Union arising from bilateral Philippines-USSR agreements were taken over by the Russian Federation, which the Philippines formally recognized on 28 December 1991.
In 1997 the President of the Republic of the Philippines Fidel Ramos paid the second official visit to Moscow. A Joint Russian-Philippine Declaration was signed.
In 2007 the russian tourists were granted privilege to stay in the Philippines up to 21 days without visa.
Recently seven exchanges of visits have intensified confidence building and highlighted prospective areas of further cooperation. Among them are:
- 23-25 January 2008 visit to the Philippines of Sergey Mironov, the Chairman of the Council of Federation (Upper House) of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.
- 16-21 October 2008 visit of the Senate President Manuel B. Villar, Jr. to Russia led to the signing of an Agreement on Cooperation between the Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and the Senate of the Congress of the Republic of the Philippines. Both sides noted that cooperation in the areas of energy, transport, telecommunications and mining would be beneficial. The State Duma (Lower House) passed a resolution in support of the ratification of the Philippines-Russia Agreement on Visa Waiver for Holders of Diplomatic and Service Passports.
- 24 September – 1 October 2008 visit of Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia to Russia led to the signing of a Sister City Agreement between Cebu City and Vladimir and a restatement of interest by St. Petersburg in a sister-region agreement with the Province of Cebu.
- 11 November 2008 5th Sub-Ministerial Political Consultations assessed the status of bilateral relations and set out the future direction of cooperation. A key outcome of the meeting was the Philippine proposal for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to visit Russia in 2009 and an open invitation for President Dmitry Medvedev to visit the Philippines.
- In November 2008 Dr. Alexander Panov of the Russian Diplomatic Academy visited Philippines to promote cooperation with the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) as provided for in the 1998 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Cooperation in the Training of Diplomatic Personnel. Arrangements are being made for Filipino diplomats to start regular Russian language classes at the Diplomatic Academy in Moscow.
- In April 2009 the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Borodavkin visited Manila to co-chair the ASEAN-Russian Dialogue and to conduct the 6th Sub-Ministerial Political Consultations with the Philippines. The meetings assessed favorably the current state of ASEAN-Russia relations and the consultations discussed the Philippines President’s visit to Russia in June 2009.
- In June 2009 Mme. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Philippines, visited Russia. She was invited by Dmitry Medvedev, President of the Russian Federation, to participate in the International Economic Forum in Saint Petersburg. Leaders had a bilateral meeting on June 5, 2009. They reached a mutual understanding to further intensify cooperation in the spheres of tourism, energy, education, culture and transportation.
The Philippines has honorary consulates in Vladivostok headed by Mr. Yuri M. Kostyukov (Consul General, ad honorem), and in St. Petersburg headed by Mr. Sergey Alexeev (Consul General, ad honorem). Russia has an honorary consulate based in Cebu City headed by Consul Armi Lopez Garcia since July 2007.
Concluded Bilateral Agreements
1. Memorandum of Understanding between the Academy of Labour and Social Relations (ALSR) and the University of San Carlos (4 May 2009)
2. Memorandum of Understanding on the Air Services Agreement (ASA) Between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the Russian Federation – Exchange of views and agreed “ad referendum” on the ASA (11 December 2008) Note: The ASA is ready for signing.
3. Agreement on Cooperation Between the Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and the Senate of the Congress of the Republic of the Philippines (20 October 2008)
4. Sister City Agreement between Cebu City and Vladimir (24 September-1 October 2008)
5. Agency Agreement between the Russian JSC “Arctic Trade and Transport Company” (ATTK) and the Philippine Aerospace Development Corporation (PADC) for the Supply of Aircrafts BE-103 – (11 September 2008)
6. Cooperation Agreement between the Russian “Irkut” Corporation and the Philippine Aerospace Development Corporation (PADC) – (10 September 2008)
7. Proprietary Information Agreement between the Russian “Irkut” Corporation and the Philippine Aerospace Development Corporation (PADC) – (10 September 2008)
8. Cooperation Agreement between the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation (25 January 2008)
9. Agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the Russian Federation on the Condition of Mutual Visits of the Holders of Diplomatic and Service (Official) Passports (August 2007)
10. Agreement between the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Federal Service of the Russian Federation for Narcotics Traffic Control on Cooperation in Combating Illicit Traffic on Narcotics Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and their Precursors (August 2007)
11. Program of Cultural and Educational Cooperation 2006-2008 (May 2006)
12. Agreement on Tourism Cooperation (14 March 2006)
13. Memorandum of Understanding between DFA and Russian MFA on Issues Relating to Cooperation on the Training of Diplomatic Personnel (29 July 1998)
14. Programme on Cultural Cooperation (29 July 1998)
15. Cultural Cooperation Agreement (12 September 1997)
16. Agreement on the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments (12 September 1997)
17. Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income and Capital (20 July 1995)
18. Air Transport Agreement (20 July 1992)
19. Commercial Air Services Agreement between PAL and Aeroflot
20. Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Science and Technology (08 July 1982)
21. Agreement on the Issuance of Multiple Visas on the Basis of Reciprocity to Embassy Officials and their Family Members (22 October 1979)
22. Agreement on Trade Cooperation (02 June 1976)