Russia Seeks Closer Defense Cooperation With Vietnam

The Ministry of the National Defense of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam has shared details on the visit of a Russian delegation last month. Senior Lieutenant General Phan Van Giang, Chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People’s Army, and Deputy Minister of National Defence met with the Secretary of the Security Council of Russia General Nikolai Patrushev in Hanoi on 16 March. The talks included declarations of friendship and gratitude, but the most important role of Patrushev’s visit was the enhancement of further cooperation with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Russian influence in Indochina is quite significant, with the Kremlin vying with China for influence in the region. Vietnam has been a long term ally to the Russians since the Second Indochina War. These relations were strengthened by Russian help during the Sino-Vietnamese War in 1979.

Vietnamese People’s Airforce Su-30MK2V Reg.8587 /
Author: Alisé Kim Picture Used Under Creative Commons License

Vietnam remains one of the states who seek to obtain more equipment from the Russian Federation. The People’s Army is already using large numbers of S-300PMU1 long-range surface-to-air missile systems and IGLA Man-Portable Air-Defence Systems. The Vietnam People’s Airforce operates more than 30 Su-30MK2Vs. Besides that, Vietnam itself is one of the largest customers for Russian military equipment, placing orders worth $1 billion in 2018 alone.

Patrushev’s March visit was followed this week by a call conducted between the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, and the Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong. The talk was mainly focused on the exchange of formalities, with the Russian President emphasizing the necessity for maintaining close relations with the people of Vietnam and the development of the nation’s mutual defense ties.

Vietnam looks set to remain within the Russian sphere of influence in the Far East for some time. Recent months have also seen Russia extend their efforts to build influence and gain partners in the region. As Russian and Laos strengthened their ties with and agreement Russian assistance to build a new military and civilian air hub.