+

Putin's Vietnam Visit: Strategic Gains Amid US Tensions, What's At Stake for Hanoi?

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Vietnam early Thursday, marking the final stop of his two-nation tour of Asia. After visiting North Korea and signing agreements with Kim Jong Un, Putin’s discussions with Vietnam’s communist leaders are set to address several critical issues, including the Ukraine conflict, defense cooperation, and the signing of bilateral documents. […]

Putin's Vietnam Visit: Strategic Gains Amid US Tensions, What's At Stake for Hanoi?
Putin's Vietnam Visit: Strategic Gains Amid US Tensions, What's At Stake for Hanoi?

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Vietnam early Thursday, marking the final stop of his two-nation tour of Asia. After visiting North Korea and signing agreements with Kim Jong Un, Putin’s discussions with Vietnam’s communist leaders are set to address several critical issues, including the Ukraine conflict, defense cooperation, and the signing of bilateral documents.

Objectives of Putin’s Visit

Ukraine and Defense Cooperation: A primary topic expected to dominate discussions is the Ukraine conflict. Vietnam, maintaining a neutral stance, has abstained from condemning Russia’s invasion, a position Moscow appreciates. Putin, in his op-ed for Vietnam’s Communist Party newspaper, Nhan Dan, expressed gratitude for Hanoi’s balanced stance on the crisis. Defense cooperation is also on the agenda, with Russia historically being a leading arms supplier to Vietnam. Despite relatively low trade volume, defense exports remain a crucial link between the two nations.

Bilateral Agreements: The visit is expected to culminate in the signing of several bilateral documents, covering economic, educational, and energy cooperation. These agreements aim to deepen Russia’s strategic partnership with Vietnam, ensuring continued influence in the region.

Global Signal: Putin’s visit is a clear signal that Russia remains engaged on the global stage despite Western sanctions and condemnation over the Ukraine war. Engaging with Vietnam, a country with strong ties to the US and the EU, Russia aims to showcase its enduring clout in Asia. The visit reinforces a historical connection, with shared communist roots dating back to the Cold War era, a bond Putin seeks to strengthen.

Vietnam’s Gains

Defense Relations: Vietnam relies heavily on Russian military hardware, making the continuation of defense ties crucial for its national security. Maintaining strong defense relations ensures that Vietnam can continue to modernize its military capabilities.

Bamboo Diplomacy: Vietnam’s foreign policy, known as “bamboo diplomacy,” aims to maintain flexibility and balance in international relations. By engaging with Russia, Vietnam demonstrates its ability to diversify partnerships and maintain neutrality amid global conflicts.

Counterbalance: Engagement with Russia serves as a counterbalance to both China and the United States. While China poses a significant threat to Vietnam’s sovereignty, the US, despite being a key economic partner, is seen as an ideological adversary. Strengthening ties with Russia helps Vietnam create a buffer against the influence of these major powers, maintaining strategic autonomy.

US Reaction

Platform Concerns: The US has expressed concern over Putin’s platform during his Vietnam visit. A US embassy spokesperson in Hanoi stated, “No country should give Putin a platform to promote his war of aggression and otherwise allow him to normalize his atrocities.” They added that allowing Putin to travel freely could normalize Russia’s blatant violations of international law.

Significance and Optics: Putin’s trip to Vietnam is seen as more significant than his visit to North Korea. Unlike the isolated North Korea, Vietnam is a major manufacturing hub with active relations with the EU and the US. Vietnam’s engagement with Russia undermines the narrative that Western sanctions have isolated Moscow. The US views this as undermining its strategic goals and reinforcing Russia’s ability to maintain significant relationships outside the Western sphere of influence.

Undermining US Hegemony: Russia’s presence in Vietnam poses a challenge to US influence. The US, which has been working to strengthen ties with Vietnam, sees Russia’s involvement as a potential threat to its strategic goals. Vietnam’s neutral stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, viewed as too close to the Kremlin by Western countries, further complicates the geopolitical landscape.

Putin’s visit to Vietnam highlights the complex interplay of global alliances and the shifting dynamics in Asia. As Vietnam navigates its path between major powers, its engagement with Russia underscores the importance of maintaining strategic autonomy and balanced diplomacy.

Tags:

HanoiputinTDGThe Daily GuardianUSvietnam