22.06.2024 Author: Ksenia Muratshina

Vladimir Putin’s visit to Vietnam: a new stage of the Russo-Vietnamese strategic partnership

Vladimir Putin’s visit to Vietnam: a new stage of the Russo-Vietnamese strategic partnership

The Russian president’s visit to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, which ended on June 20, resulted in new and important bilateral agreements and yet again proves the close and friendly relations between the two countries.

 Meeting at the highest level

On June 19-20, 2024, Russian President Vladimir Putin was in Vietnam on a state visit, i.e. the highest possible level of visit, which was held at the invitation of the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Nguyen Phu Trong. The Vietnamese side demonstrated excellent organisation; everything was arranged in an impressive and celebratory manner. Hanoi showed that it was hosting a truly significant guest, that is not only the head of a powerful global power, but also a close friend and like-minded person.

Vietnam is one of the most significant partners of our country and has withstood the test of time. Russo-Vietnamese relations have a solid historical foundation, much of which was laid in the Soviet years, when the USSR provided allied assistance to the young independent state – both in the struggle for independence and repelling external enemies and in economic development.

Since 2001, relations between the Russian Federation and Vietnam have had the status of a strategic partnership and since 2012 a comprehensive strategic partnership. The range of cooperation between the two countries is broad and encompasses all spheres of social development: defence and security, trade and economic relations, education, science, medicine, culture, tourism. Since 2016, a free trade agreement between Vietnam and the Eurasian Economic Union has been in force, providing additional opportunity for expanding cooperation.

The programme of Vladimir Putin’s current visit turned out to be quite eventful; the official part included meetings with all key leaders of the Vietnamese state  (Nguyen Phu Trong, President To Lam, Prime Minister Pham Minh Tin and Chairman of the National Assembly Chan Thanh Man), laying wreaths at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the Memorial to the Fallen Heroes of Vietnam, as well as a meeting in Hanoi Grand Opera House with graduates of Soviet and Russian universities. In addition, a festive concert was held, and the day concluded with a grand presidential reception in honour of the Russian leader.

Substantive, meaningful and diverse results 

The key document adopted as a result of the visit is the Joint Statement of the Russian Federation and Vietnam on further deepening the comprehensive strategic partnership. It sets forth the principles of Russo-Vietnamese cooperation: both parties prioritise relations; mutual trust; sovereign equality of states; implementation of the provisions of the UN Charter; refusal to join alliances and conclude agreements with third countries capable of “harming the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and fundamental interests of each other”. The latter principle takes on a new form and represents a notable diplomatic innovation in mutual obligations, even against the background of the widespread rejection of allied relations by most states in modern international relations.

In addition, the parties advocated for “promoting an objective process of forming a more just and sustainable multipolar (polycentric) world order”, “an open, inclusive, transparent and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system”, “the inviolability of the results of the Second World War as enshrined in the UN Charter”, condemning “the glorification of Nazism and militarism, as well as attempts to revive them”, the need to “resist attempts to deny, distort and falsify the history of the Second World War”, as well as increasing the role of the Global South in managing international processes.

Both Moscow and Hanoi are against “interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states, the imposition of unilateral sanctions without international legal grounds and which are not approved by the UN Security Council, the extraterritorial application of national law and the creation of ideological dividing lines”.

Speaking about matters on the international agenda, both sides expressed concern about the deteriorating situation in the Middle East and called for the implementation of a “two-state formula, providing for the creation of an independent Palestinian State within the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital”. This shows the common views of the Russian Federation and Vietnam on the international situation and on the main guidelines for the future development not only of bilateral partnership, but also international relations in general.

The practical agreements laid out in the Statement are impressive: “political dialogue at the highest levels”, “building up contacts between the heads of legislative authorities” and “along the party line”, “coordination of actions within the framework of international and regional parliamentary forums”, “deepening comprehensive cooperation in the field of international information security”, “cooperation in the fight against international terrorism and its financing”. It was decided to increase investments on a mutual basis and “accelerate the implementation of the project for the construction of a ‘Nuclear Science and Technology Centre’ in Vietnam.

Both parties pledged to support ”the creation of a comprehensive, open and transparent architecture of equal and indivisible security and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region on a collective and non-aligned basis”, promote “the central role of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in the system of interstate relations in the Asia-Pacific region”, develop Russia-ASEAN relations, as well as to strengthen “ties between BRICS and developing countries, including Vietnam”.

The Statement also provides for the development of cooperation in the oil and gas and transport sectors, energy, industry (primarily mining, machinery and shipbuilding), digital technologies, the agro-industrial complex, the development of Vietnamese railways and emergency response services.

The list of documents on individual industries signed during the visit is also extensive. Such a solid set of agreements in a wide variety of areas shows the complex nature of the partnership and the meaningful content of our relations with Vietnam, providing an opportunity to develop cooperation at all levels of bilateral contacts.

Evaluation and feedback 

Vietnam highly appreciates the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the cooperation with Russia in general. As To Lam underlined in his statement following negotiations, “the two countries are bound by traditional friendship” and Vietnam is “as grateful for the immense help of the Russian people” and “considers Russia a partner of very high priority”.

Nguyen Phu Trong called Vladimir Putin a “close and dear friend”, saying that his visit to Hanoi is a source of “very good opportunities” to “discuss further measures and vectors to strengthen the comprehensive strategic partnership in the interests of our peoples”.

Pham Minh Tinh congratulated Vladimir Putin on his convincing election victory, thanked him for his attention to Vietnam (this is the fifth visit to this country for the Russian President) and highlighted that bilateral relations are especially “sincere”, defined by “political trust” and “selfless assistance”.

On behalf of the National Assembly of Vietnam, Tran Thanh Man also congratulated the Russian leader on his election victory, noting the high level of trust of the Russian people in their president, and stated that Vietnam “always places great importance on the comprehensive strategic partnership with Russia”.

Vietnamese media is responding to the visit in a detailed and enthusiastic manner, describing it as a new milestone in the history of Russo-Vietnamese relations, as well as listing the new agreements on partnership development and recalling the historical ties between the two peoples and Soviet assistance to Vietnam.

Only a person with little knowledge of politics could fail to be impressed by how warmly Vladimir Putin spoke about the Vietnamese people and their history, freely quoted Ho Chi Minh, showed respect for the most significant Vietnamese memorial sites, filled his speeches with valuable cooperation initiatives and had open and trusting dialogue at a meeting with university graduates.

Moving from a memorable date to new prospects 

This year, on June 16, the 30th anniversary of the 1994 Russo-Vietnamese Treaty on the Fundamentals of Friendly Relations was celebrated. Vladimir Putin’s visit showed that the parties not only continue to implement the principles established by this Agreement, but also adapt their cooperation to modern conditions, taking into account one other’s opinions and wishes.

Now that the main official events of the visit are over, a new and important stage begins, namely intensive joint work on the implementation of the new agreements. The Russian Federation and Vietnam have already begun preparations for the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, which will be next year. There is every reason to expect that the parties will put in great effort to implement their plans and bring practical cooperation to a new level.

 

Ksenia Muratshina, PhD in History, Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Southeast Asia, Australia and Oceania of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook

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