Philippines president who once called Putin his 'idol' slams him for killing civilians in Ukraine, becoming first ally of the Russian president to speak out
- Philippines leader Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday criticized Putin for killing women and children in
- Duterte is the first pro-Putin autocrat to speak critically about
Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte — who once called Russian President
"I kill criminals, I don't kill children and the elderly," Duterte said Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. Under his watch, Duterte has sanctioned the killings of thousands of his citizens as part of his so-called war on drugs, calling them criminals.
With the comment, Duterte becomes the first of the world's pro-Russia strongmen to publicly condemn Putin over his invasion of Ukraine, which entered its fourth month on Tuesday.
Autocratic leaders with warm relations with Putin, such as Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro, Syria's Bashar al-Assad, Saudi Arabia's Mohammed bin Salman, China's Xi Jinping, and North Korea's Kim Jong Un have so far kept mostly silent, choosing to stay neutral or back Russia in the conflict.
Duterte also said Tuesday that Russia was lying by labeling the invasion a "special military operation" — as Putin and Russian state-run media have asserted since day one — and that it is clearly a war against "a sovereign nation," the AP reported.
Despite his comments, Duterte still referred to Putin as a "friend" on Tuesday, the AP reported.
In November 2016, Duterte told Al Jazeera that Putin was "my idol" because he has "no illusions about himself."
"He knows that he was not trained for
Duterte is set to retire from politics this summer, saying late last year he would not be running for reelection in the May 2022 election. Earlier this month the Philippines elected Ferdinand "Bong Bong" Marcos Jr., the son of Ferdinand Marcos, a former president who ruled through martial law.
Under Duterte's rule, the Philippines increasingly looked to Russia and China for partnership despite being historically linked to the US by its military needs.
Though many of Russia's allies have decided not to criticize the war in Ukraine, Alexander Lukashenko, the leader of Russia's closest ally, Belarus, said earlier this month that he didn't expect the war to "drag on."
Last month, Russia refocused its invasion from trying to seize the entire country, including its government, to the pro-Kremlin Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
Ukrainian forces have over the past months reclaimed territory from Russian control and experts say that Russia is struggling to carry out its war aims.
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