Russia Returns to Vietnam

The visit of the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov to Vietnam turned out to be a significant event, as Russia turns its attention to Indo-Chinese vector, where Vietnam plays an important role. However, it’s too early to say that Russia-Vietnam relations would be the same as they were during the 1990s.

Many experts found Russia’s withdrawal from the naval base in Cam Ranh Bay to be the end of relations between Moscow and Hanoi. Some experts even supposed that the USA would come back to Cam Ranh, as Vietnam, after initiating market reforms, started implementing a multiple-vector foreign policy in which the Russian direction was not a priority.

The possible reason for that was the insistent demand of the Russian financial institutions to make Vietnam pay back the money for the weapons supplied during the American aggression. At the same time, the Vietnamese government could not understand why Russia agreed to write off Iraqi debts. All this prevented the Russian Federation from consolidating its position in Vietnam, which had been the outpost of the Russian foreign policy in Southeast Asia.

At the moment the situation improves. After the visit of the President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Nguyen Minh Triet to Moscow last year and his meeting Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the relations between the two countries took a new direction in various spheres.

However, the major result of Mr. Lavrov’s visit is the signing of the Memorandum of Intentions between Russia’s Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation and Vietnam’s Science and Technology Ministry. Sergey Lavrov, who was present at the document signing ceremony, called the memorandum promising.

In the beginning of 2006 the Government of Vietnam adopted a strategy of the nuclear power engineering development up to 2020, envisaging the construction of nuclear generating capacities. The first power unit is to be launched in 2020.

The Russian officials acknowledged the interest and readiness to render Vietnam assistance in building and developing the necessary infrastructure of the nuclear energy industry.

Within the framework of the Coordination Committee on June 17 there was held a seminar dedicated to personnel training for nuclear power engineering of Vietnam. Thus the new stage in the Russian Vietnamese cooperation has been initiated.

The development of the nuclear power engineering should become an indication of the recovery of the mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries.

Ivan Tulyakov

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov