Russia says military drills planned with Vietnam

Special to BenarNews
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Russia says military drills planned with Vietnam Military visitors from Vietnam observe a Russian T-90MS tank at an annual military show in Alabino, outside Moscow, Aug. 23, 2020.
AP Photo

As fighting rages across Ukraine, Russia and Vietnam are planning to hold a joint military training exercise, Russian state media reported Tuesday, a move that analysts described as “inappropriate” and likely to “raise eyebrows” in the rest of the region.

It comes amid international outrage over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the mounting civilian death toll there. It also coincides with U.S. preparations to host a May 12-13 summit in Washington with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), including Vietnam.

Russian state-run news agency RIA Novosti said the initial planning meeting for the military training exercise was held virtually between the leaders of Russia’s Eastern Military District and the Vietnamese army.

The two sides “agreed on the subject of the upcoming drills, specified the dates and venue for them” and “discussed issues of medical and logistic support, cultural and sports programs,” the news agency reported without giving further details.

Col. Ivan Taraev, head of the International Military Cooperation Department at the Eastern Military District, was quoted as saying that the joint exercise aims “to improve practical skills of commanders and staffs in organizing combat training operations and managing units in a difficult tactical situation, as well as developing unconventional solutions when performing tasks.” 

The two sides also discussed what to call the joint exercise. One of the proposed names is “Continental Alliance – 2022.”

‘Inappropriate decision’

Vietnamese media haven’t reported on the meeting, nor the proposed exercise. Vietnamese officials were not available for comment.

“This is a totally inappropriate decision on Vietnam’s part,” said Carlyle Thayer, professor emeritus at the New South Wales University in Australia and a veteran Vietnam watcher.

“The U.S. is hosting a special summit with Southeast Asian leaders in May,” Thayer said. “How will the Vietnamese leader be able to look Biden in the eye given the U.S. clear stance on the Ukrainian war and the Russian invasion?”

“This is not how you deal with the world’s superpower,” he said.

Earlier this month, Vietnam voted against a U.S.-led resolution to remove Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council. Before that, Hanoi abstained from voting to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the U.N. General Assembly.

“As Russia's closest partner in the region, Vietnam wants to demonstrate that it still has a firm friend in Southeast Asia,” said Ian Storey, senior fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore.

“But this joint exercise is likely to raise eyebrows in the rest of the region,” Storey said.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, right, and his then-Vietnamese counterpart Ngo Xuan Lich, left, reviewing an honor guard in Hanoi, Jan. 23, 2018. Shoigu was on a visit to Vietnam to boost military ties between the two countries. [AP Photo]


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