General Secretary of the Communist Party, President of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong and US President Joe Biden.
The New York Times published the contents of a leaked Vietnamese government document, produced by the Ministry of Finance, revealing a covert plan for the country to procure Russian weapons in contravention of US-led sanctions on Moscow, Zero Hedge notes.
Biden met with the country's leader Nguyen Phu Trong, and the two formally agreed to upgrade strategic ties between the US and Vietnam. But the NYT report demonstrates that "even as the United States and Vietnam have nurtured their relationship over recent months, Hanoi is making clandestine plans to buy an arsenal of weapons from Russia."
The revelation of the document strongly suggests that any agreements reached in Hanoi which the Biden White House is now celebrating as successful are likely to be fleeting and without much depth in the near and long-term.
According to details of the document's contents:
“The Ministry of Finance document, which is dated March 2023 and whose contents have been verified by former and current Vietnamese officials, lays out how Vietnam proposes to modernize its military by secretly paying for defense purchases through transfers at a joint Vietnamese and Russian oil venture in Siberia.
Signed by a Vietnamese deputy finance minister, the document notes that Vietnam is negotiating a new arms deal with Russia that would "strengthen strategic trust" at a time when "Russia is being embargoed by Western countries in all aspects.”
So once again, global south and non-aligned countries appear to be sticking with Russia, no matter the West's clearly futile efforts to isolate it on the world stage.
But the report alludes to another trend - that of Western countries threatening those smaller nations that step out of line in pursuing defense or strong trade ties with Russia: "Yet by developing its secret plan to pay for Russian defense equipment, Vietnam is stepping into the center of a larger security contest that is steeped both in Cold War politics and the hot war of the moment, in Ukraine," NYT underscores.
The leaked document at one point reads: "Our party and state still identify Russia as the most important strategic partner in defense and security."
Vietnam has of course historically relied heavily on Russia for weapons, and by all appearances will continue to do so, despite the longtime efforts of Washington to sway the southeast Asian country to a more westward trajectory. When it comes in Russian exports in general, more broadly in the geopolitical neighborhood there seems an increasing trend of individual countries like Vietnam saying, “But everyone's doing it”.
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