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Expert: Putin may visit Vietnam, North Korea during trip to China

by Abbey Fenbert May 11, 2024 7:37 AM 2 min read
Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia, on March 26, 2024. (Contributor/Getty Images)
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Russian President Vladimir Putin may use his upcoming visit to China as a chance to visit regional allies Vietnam and North Korea, Voice of America (VOA) reported on May 10, citing expert analysts.

Putin confirmed on April 25 that he will visit China in May, though he did not provide dates. Reuters reported that the visit would likely take place in the latter half of the month.

Experts told VOA that a visit to Vietnam would let Putin demonstrate that Western sanctions following Moscow's full-scale invasion of Ukraine have not isolated Russia, while Hanoi could continue to pursue a middle ground between China and the United States.

Vietnam might also be interested in pursuing an arms deal with Russia, as Kremlin ally North Korea has already done.

"Putin might use this opportunity to visit Russia's three closest partners in Asia: China, Vietnam, and North Korea," Ian Storey, a fellow at Singapore's ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, told VOA via email on April 1o.

"Putin would use this visit to signal to the world that his government's 'Turn to the East' policy remains on track and that the West has failed to isolate Russia."

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The state media outlet Vietnam News Agency reported that General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, the leader of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam, invited Putin to visit during a phone call on March 26.

Putin reportedly accepted the invitation and agreed to arrange a suitable time.

Nguyen The Phuong, a doctoral candidate at the University of New South Wales Canberra, said that Hanoi might also be negotiating a weapons deal with the Russian government.

"If Putin visited it will be a very good chance for Vietnam to explore those kinds of possibilities of how they could somehow purchase weapons from Russia," Phuong told VOA on April 8.

Vietnam's arsenal of Soviet-era equipment is reportedly aging out of functionality.

Storey told VOA that Vietnam may look to acquire new military planes "as its current inventory of Russian-made aircraft is reaching the end of its operational life."

Putin's visit to China will be his first trip abroad since winning his fifth term in the widely-denounced Russian presidential election in March. Putin previously visited China last October to attend the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing.

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