Putin Prioritises Strategic Ties In Vietnam Amid Criticism

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said during a state visit to Vietnam on Thursday that strengthening strategic ties is “one of his priorities” as he continued a swing through Asia seen as a show of defiance.

A day after signing a mutual defence agreement with North Korea, Putin said Moscow and Hanoi wanted to build what he called a reliable security architecture in the Asia-Pacific region. He also said Russia was keen to expand investment in energy in Vietnam.

While the “comprehensive strategic partnership” Putin spoke of is the same agreement Vietnam has with the United States and China, his visit has drawn criticism from Hanoi’s Western partners, who have protested that he should not be given a stage on which to defend Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine.

Putin was welcomed in Hanoi with a 21-gun salute during a military ceremony on Thursday, as he was praised by one of the Communist-run country’s top leaders.

The ceremony is reserved for the highest heads of state and was also rolled out when U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Vietnam last year.

President To Lam congratulated Putin on his re-election and praised Russia’s achievements, including “domestic political stability,” as the two met in Hanoi.

Once again, congratulations to our comrade for receiving overwhelming support during the recent presidential election, underlining the confidence of the Russian people,” Lam said.

The two presidents witnessed the exchange of 11 agreements and memorandums of understanding, including deals on oil and gas, nuclear science and education.

Putin also said he respected dialogue with the regional bloc, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, in which he said Vietnam played an active role.

Putin, who arrived in the early hours on Thursday, is on the final stop of his two-nation tour of Asia after concluding the defence pact with North Korea. Putin has also visited China since he was sworn in for a fifth term in May.

Criticism

U.S., EU CRITICISM Vietnam’s hosting of Putin was criticised by key partner the United States, which upgraded diplomatic relations with Hanoi last year and is Vietnam’s top export market, and the European Union.

A U.S. embassy statement earlier in the week said no country should be giving Putin a platform to promote Russia’s war in Ukraine.

A spokesperson for the EU delegation in Vietnam said “Hanoi had the right to develop its own foreign policy, but said Russia’s war in Ukraine proved Moscow did not respect international law.”

Russia was hit with U.S.-led Western sanctions after it invaded Ukraine in February 2022 in what Moscow calls a “special military operation.” In March 2023, the Hague-based International Criminal Court’s issued an arrest warrant for Putin over alleged war crimes in Ukraine, charges he denies.

Neither Vietnam nor Russia are members of the ICC.

 

 

 

Reuters/Shakirat Sadiq

 

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