The United States government has been working to bring Southeast Asian nations such as Vietnam into its anti-China alliance in order to contain China’s growing influence in the Asia-Pacific region.
However, it appears that despite these efforts, Vietnam has been engaging in a clandestine arms deal with Russia, which would violate US sanctions policies according to an internal Vietnamese government document revealed by Big League Politics.
A document from the Vietnamese Ministry of Finance, dated March 2023, has been confirmed by current and former Vietnamese officials. This document outlines a plan to modernize Vietnam’s military through secret transfers, facilitated at a joint Russian-Vietnamese oil venture in Siberia.
The agreement was signed by a deputy finance minister. It is believed that this arms deal serves to “strengthen strategic trust” between Russia and Vietnam during a period when Russia is facing Western embargoes.
This would not be the first time that Vietnam has sought armament from Russia – according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, 56% of Vietnam’s total arms imports between 2017 and 2021 were from Russia.
This move demonstrates how Vietnam is looking to position itself as a powerful player in an increasingly multipolar geopolitical landscape, courting both the United States and Russia for support.
The Ministry of Finance document outlines a comprehensive strategy for the funding of Russian armaments by the Ministry of National Defense.
To evade detection from American authorities, payments for these weapons will be conducted through a joint venture between Russia and Vietnam called Rusvietpetro, which operates oil and natural gas production facilities in northern Russia.
“Our party and state,” the document states, “still identify Russia as the most important strategic partner in defense and security.”
A Vietnamese official has declared that the terms of a new weapons agreement with Russia will amount to approximately $8 billion over the course of 20 years.
Since the start of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Vietnam has not joined other Western nations in their sanctions or military aid campaigns against Russia.
Vietnam also refused to condemn Russia’s invasion at the United Nations and proceeded to vote against expelling them from its Human Rights Council. For more than a decade, the US government has been attempting to steer Vietnam away from Russian influence.
In 2016, they ended their weapons embargo on Vietnam as part of an effort to incentivize cooperation with their anti-China agenda by providing military aid.
It remains to be seen whether Vietnam will align itself with the US national security state’s anti-China crusade. Regardless of any sanctions the US Government may attempt to impose on Vietnam due to its purchase of Russian weapons, it is unlikely that they will follow through due to Vietnam’s value as a containment partner in its Asia-Pacific Strategy.
This reinforces Russia’s ongoing strong relationship with Vietnam regardless of any geopolitical maneuvers the US may try.