Putin is trying to shore up Russia’s ties in Asia

The bilateral agreement between the two countries signed on a “redundant” basis on 26 March 2004 by Russian Prime Minister Kim Jong-Yang

The accords between Russia and Vietnam were small compared to the pact Putin signed with Kim on the same day, said Gould-Davies of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.

In a press conference following the meeting, Putin said the agreement “includes the provision of mutual assistance in case of an aggression against one of the signatories.”

In a show of strong friendship, Kim personally greeted Putin on a red-carpeted tarmac at the Pyongyang International Airport well past 2 a.m. on Wednesday. The visit by Putin was scheduled to begin on Tuesday.

The full scope of the treaty and other agreements signed on Wednesday are not publicized. And some North Korea watchers question the sustainability of the current bilateral ties.

But the United States and its allies have raised concerns that a growing military partnership would embolden the two ostracized countries and destabilize the region and beyond.

In Washington on Tuesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said after his meeting with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken that Russia’s war is “propped up” by countries like North Korea and China. If they succeed, the world will be more dangerous.

The U.S., China, and Vietnam’s cooperation in the region: a view from the Kumsusan State Guesthouse

The two men rode in a car that was made in Russia together to the Kumsusan State Guesthouse, where there were Russian flags and welcoming banners.

The welcoming ceremony was filled with military bands, honor guards and North Korean citizens, who waved flags and flowers in the heat of the day.

The U.S.’ “confrontational” policies in the region were criticized by Putin in the press conference, while he defended North Korea against attempts to place the blame for destabilization of the international situation on him. He called for a review of the UN sanctions on North Korea.

He further promised “full support and solidarity with the Russian government, army and people in carrying out the special military operation in Ukraine to protect the sovereignty, security interests and territorial integrity,” according to Sputnik.

The two countries could also engage in advanced military-technical cooperation, as well as increasing exchanges in trade, culture, tourism, education, and agriculture.

Andrew Goledzinowski wrote on social media platform X that Vietnam is doing a huge favor to the Russian leader, and could expect favors in return.

Russia has accounted for 80% of Vietnam’s arms imports since the early 2000s. This has been declining over the years due to Vietnamese attempts to diversify its supplies. But to entirely wean itself off Russia will take time, Giang said.

Vietnam needs support from the U.S. to advance its economic ambitions and diversify its defense ties, Parameswaran said. In an environment of rising tensions between Moscow and Washington, it must carefully calibrate what it does with Russia.

A Year After the War: Putin’s Visit to Vietnam and Implications for the Strategic Relations between the United States and the West (and the Global South)

Since the war began, Putin has not been able to travel a lot and has only ventured beyond the borders of the former Soviet space.

The visit to Russia seems to have been focused on how Moscow can influence other countries, particularly in the so-called Global South.

He believes that Vietnam might just show that it is able to maintain a balance of bamboo diplomacy. “Already in the course of a year they’ve hosted visits by the heads of state of the three most powerful countries in the world, which is pretty impressive.”

Vietnam hosted both the U.S. President and the leader of China in the same year.

Evidence of the long relationship and its influence can be seen in Vietnamese cities like the capital, where many Soviet-style apartment blocks are now dwarfed by skyscrapers. A statue of Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union, stands in a park where kids skateboard every evening. Party chief Trong attended Soviet universities and studied at the top leadership of the party.

Much has changed since Putin’s last visit to Vietnam in 2017. Russia faces sanctions because of its invasion of Ukraine. The International Criminal Court in the Netherlands issued an arrest warrant for Putin for alleged war crimes, which made it hard for the Russian leader to travel around the world. The Kremlin rejected the warrant as “null and void,” stressing that Moscow doesn’t recognize the court’s jurisdiction.

In Hanoi, Putin also met Vietnam’s most powerful politician, Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, according to the official Vietnam News Agency.

Putin arrived in Hanoi on Thursday morning from North Korea after signing the strategic pact, which comes as both countries face escalating standoffs with the West and could mark their strongest connection since the end of the Cold War.

An analyst at Singapore’s ISEAS- Yusof Ishak Institute said that Putin’s recent visits to China and North Korea are attempts to break the international isolation.

During his visit to Vietnam, Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to supply fossil fuels including natural gas to the country for the long term, as he tries to bolster his relationship with Asia to offset its growing influence.

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