REVEALED: Vietnam Goes Behind the US’s Back by Pursuing Secret Arms Deal with Russia
The United States government has been making efforts to win over Southeast Asian nations such as Vietnam in an effort to contain China’s rise in the Asia-Pacific region.
However, despite the US’s efforts to woo Vietnam into joining its anti-China alliance, Vietnam has been secretly making deals to buy a large batch of Russian weapons — a move that would violate US sanctions policies — per an internal Vietnamese government document.
The document in question comes from the Ministry of Finance document and is dated back to March 2023. Former and current Vietnamese officials have confirmed the document’s content, which details how the Vietnamese government plans to modernize its military by secretly paying for defense purchases via transfers at a joint Vietnamese and Russian oil venture based in Siberia. The deal was signed by a Vietnamese deputy finance minister. The document highlighted that Vietnam has been in negotiations with Russia over a new arms deal that would “strengthen strategic trust” during a time when “Russia is being embargoed by Western countries in all aspects.”
Vietnam has long been a major purchaser of Russian weaponry. According to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Russia was Vietnam’s main arms supplier from 2017 to 2021, making up 56% of Vietnam’s total imports in this respect.
This move by Vietnam is part of its broader strategy to court both Russia and the United States in this new era of geopolitical multipolarity.
The Ministry of Finance document highlights a detailed plan for how the Ministry of National Defense would pay for the Russian armaments. To avoid drawing attention from the American government, money for Russian weapons would be transferred within the books of a Russian-Vietnamese joint enterprise called Rusvietpetro, which has oil and natural gas operations in northern Russia.
“Our party and state,” the document states, “still identify Russia as the most important strategic partner in defense and security.”
According to one Vietnamese official, the terms of a new weapons agreement with Russia will hover around $8 billion over the course of 20 years.
Since Russia launched its special military operation in Ukraine on February 24 2022, Vietnam has not joined in the Collective West’s anti-Russia sanctions and military aid to Ukraine campaigns. Vietnam has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion at the United Nations, and it voted against kicking Russia out of the UN’s Human Rights Council.
Over the last decade, the United States government has attempted to get Vietnam out of Russia’s orbit. In 2016, Washington ended a weapons embargo on Vietnam. The aim here was to dangle the carrot of sending US military aid to Vietnam if it complied with the US’s anti-China agenda.
The document highlighted that while the US government could slap Vietnam with sanctions for purchasing Russian weapons, American authorities were unlikely to follow through due to Vietnam’s value to Washington as a containment partner in its Asia-Pacific Strategy directed against China.
All told, it remains to be seen if Vietnam will join the US national security state’s anti-China crusade. That said, Russia’s relationship with Vietnam will remain strong no matter what the US geopolitical tinkerers try to do.
In a multipolar world, countries will be moved by national interests not ideological fixations.