Russia-Vietnam: Countries Develop Comprehensive Relations

State visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Hanoi: strengthening strategic partnership with Vietnam is one of Russia's priorities

Vladimir Putin e To Lam

After wrapping up a two-day visit to DPRK, Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Vietnam. His purpose is to discuss with the president of this Asian country To Lam the situation in the world and the prospects for the development of relations between Moscow and Hanoi. At the opening of talks with To Lam, the Russian leader emphasized that Russia and Vietnam maintain “regular and meaningful political contacts,” including through “parliaments, ministries, and agencies.” The Russian head of state added that Moscow attaches “great importance” to developing dialogue with ASEAN, an influential Southeast Asian international organization that also includes Vietnam.

“Last year,” Putin recalled, “bilateral trade between Russia and Vietnam grew by 8%.” The growth in trade between Russia and Vietnam was driven by the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement in 2015 between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and Vietnam, which announced its intention to join BRICS. Putin invited Vietnam to attend the BRICS summit to be held in Kazan, Russia, on October 22-24.

Faced with growing tensions between the West and a group of countries that want to build a multipolar and inclusive world, it is important for Russia and Vietnam to move toward payments in national currencies in trade. The Russian head of state emphasized the importance of creating “sustainable channels of credit and banking cooperation” between the two countries. Speaking about economic cooperation, Putin also emphasized that the supply of agricultural products from Russia and Vietnam is growing.

In the trade and economic field, Russia and Vietnam agreed to increase bilateral investment, especially in traditional and new energy. “Economic cooperation is one of the pillars of our partnership. We will increase trade, bilateral investment, and improve the efficiency of projects in the energy and gas sectors to create favorable conditions for our companies,” To Lam said.

Vietnam considers Russia a priority in its foreign policy. As To Lam said, “Vietnam has always considered Russia as one of the priorities in its foreign policy. We want to develop together with Russia the traditionally friendly relations that have been created by many generations and leaders of our two countries.”

In this context, Vietnam and Russia agreed to strengthen cooperation and “not to strengthen direct alliances against each other.” According to To Lam, “guiding and fundamental principles have been agreed upon to further strengthen the strategic partnership between Vietnam and the Russian Federation. We also agreed to strengthen cooperation in accordance with the principles of equality, mutual respect, and non-interference in internal affairs.” It was decided not to “enter into alliances and treaties with third countries to harm independence, sovereignty, and mutual territorial integrity.”

On the eve of Putin’s visit to Hanoi, the United States criticized the Vietnamese government for inviting the Russian president to visit the country. In response to this “unprecedented interference in Vietnam’s internal affairs,” Moscow and Hanoi decided to further “strengthen cooperation also in the field of defense and security.”

In order to give concrete content to the agreements, the establishment of a Nuclear Science Center was agreed upon. Russian state agency Rosatom and Vietnam’s Ministry of Science and Technology signed a memorandum on establishing a Russian-Vietnamese Nuclear Science Center in the Asian country. The document was signed on the sidelines of the summit between Putin and To Lam by Rosatom CEO Alexei Likhachev and Vietnamese Science Minister Huynh Thanh Dat. Likhachev said Russia and Vietnam could return to discussing the construction of a nuclear power plant in the country.

Russia and Vietnam have good opportunities for cooperation in the field of renewable energy. As Putin noted after signing the memorandum, the joint Russian-Vietnamese project for the construction of an offshore wind power generation plant in Binh Thuan province with a capacity of one thousand megawatts has already been included in the general plan for the development of Vietnam’s national energy system.

At the end of the talks, the Russian and Vietnamese presidents adopted a joint declaration on further deepening the global strategic partnership between the two countries. The two leaders signed ten other joint agreements that deal with cooperation in many areas, from finance to energy, tourism and education. Putin concluded by inviting his counterpart to visit Moscow next year to attend the 80th anniversary of the victory in World War II.