Putin visits Vietnam to bolster relations in Southeast Asia amid Russia’s growing isolation

Russian President Vladimir Putin began his state visit to Vietnam on Thursday where dignitaries greeted him upon his arrival as soldiers stood to attention. 

In Vietnam, Putin is scheduled to meet the Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, the new President To Lam and other officials. 

Since Putin last visited Vietnam in 2017, much has changed. Russia now faces sanctions for its invasion of Ukraine and the International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Putin for war crimes. 

Putin arrived in the nation from North Korea, where he and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed an agreement that pledges mutual aid in the event of war.  

North Korea has been accused of supplying Russia with badly needed ammunition to fuel Moscow’s war in Ukraine in exchange for technology assistance that could enhance the threat posed by Kim’s nuclear weapons and missile programme.  

Both countries deny accusations of weapons transfers. 

Putin’s recent visits to China, North Korea and now to Vietnam are attempts to break out of the international isolation facing Russia, according to Nguyen Khac Giang, an analyst at Singapore’s ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.  

Giang says Russia holds significant importance for Vietnam due to two key factors: serving as its primary supplier of military equipment and providing crucial oil exploration technology that aids Vietnam in maintaining sovereignty in the disputed South China Sea.

Hanoi and Moscow have had diplomatic relations since 1950 – with this year marking 30 years of a treaty establishing “friendly relationships” between the two states.  

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