Global Insider: Russia-Vietnam Relations

During a recent visit to Vietnam by Russia's deputy foreign minister, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung called for the enhancement of trade and political ties between the two countries. In an email interview, Carlyle A. Thayer, an emeritus professor at the University of New South Wales at the Australian Defense Force Academy, discussed Russia-Vietnam relations.

WPR: What is the recent history of Russia-Vietnam relations?

Carlyle A. Thayer: When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Moscow pressed Vietnam for repayment of debts totaling $1.7 billion, and the two sides took nearly a decade to negotiate a settlement. In 1994, they codified their relationship with the Treaty on Principles of Friendly Relations. Six years later, Vietnam agreed to acquit its debts over a 23-year period through a combination of hard currency payments, goods and services, and investment in joint enterprises. With the debt issue settled, Moscow and Hanoi raised their relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership in March 2001. However, in 2002, after Vietnam pressed Russia to pay an annual rent of $300 million for continued access to Cam Ranh Bay, once the Soviet Union's largest foreign base, Russia chose to withdraw from the naval base. More recently, the two countries exchanged presidential visits in 2010, and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is scheduled to visit Vietnam in July.

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