Russia has sent three additional warships to the Philippines, strengthening ties with the Asian nation. The warships include two two anti-submarine vessels, which docked in Manila on Friday (20 October).

This is reportedly the third such visit by Russian warships to the Philippines.

The visit by the warships was timed to coincide with the arrival of Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and his US counterpart James Mattis to the country, a Philippine navy spokesman reportedly said.

"We would do our best to make this port call a significant contribution indicating friendly ties and relations between two nations in the interest of security and stability in this region," Eduard Mikhailov, deputy commander of Russia's Pacific Fleet flotilla, was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Russian and Filipino navy officials said the warships unloaded some 5,000 assault rifles, a million rounds of ammunition and 20 army trucks.

During Shoigu's visit next week for a regional defence meeting, the Philippines and Russia are expected to sign security deals to further deepen ties – an initiative reportedly undertaken by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte, who assumed the president's office in June 2016, has been trying to redefine the country's foreign policy by forging new ties.

Unlike his predecessors, he has also tried to improve relations with China, despite the two nations being engaged in a long-time maritime dispute over the South China Sea.

Duterte has said several times in the past that he wishes to cut ties with the US, which has been an old ally, and forge newer ties with countries like China and Russia.