as islands under international law. Vietnam also has an interest in freedom of navigation on the high seas in order to reprovision islands lying outside its EEZ.Usually freedom of navigation is associated with the national interests of maritimepowers whose civilian and military ships pass through South China Sea watersincluding EEZs.Q3. The Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has just visited Russia. Thetwo governments pledged "further collaboration in national defense and security".How do you assess the cooperation between Vietnam and Russia today? Is it betterthan ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union? Is there something new in thecooperation between the countries that you perceive after this visit or it "business asusual"?ANSWER:
Vietnam is one of Russia’s major arms markets. The relationship extends
beyond sales to include training, maintenance, repair, and upgrading of major itemsof equipment or weapons platforms. It also includes co-production of patrol boatsand missiles. With Vietnam expected to take delivery of six Kilo class submarines therelationship with Russia will extend to Russian-built facilities in Cam Ranh Bay andlong-
term servicing and maintenance of Vietnam’s new submarine fleet.
Vietnam will be locked into its defence supply relationship with Russia for decades.
The determinants are compatibility with Vietnam’s current stock of weapons andequipment and affordable price and flexible terms. Prime Minister Dung’s visit was
business as usual with Russia, a relationship only recently raisesd from strategicpartnership to comprehensive strategic partnership. No doubt the Russians putforward proposals for future weapons sales for consideration.Q4. The visit of Nguyen Tan Dungto Moscow came after the trip by President XiJinping to Russia. How do you assess the "Chinese factor" in the relationshipbetween Moscow and Hanoi? Will Vietnam become an important partner of Russiain the region, as important as China?ANSWER: Russia sells weapons to both China and Vietnam. But China reportedly
reverse engineers Russian technology and violates Russia’s intellectual property
rights. This is an irritant in relations. China manufactures its big ticket Russianweapons such as the Su-30 multirole jet fighter under license. Russian also hasleverage through energy sales to China now and in the future. Russia has also beencareful not to introduce military technology that would destabilize the securitysituation in the region. For example, Russian industry sources denied media reportsthat Russia would sell fifth generation stealth fighters to China.Vietnam will never rival China for power and influence in the region. But Vietnamwill always hold a special place for Russia because of their economic and defence tiesand the large Viet-kieu community in Russia. Their collaboration in joint ventures todevelop energy resources, including hydrocarbons and nuclear energy, will grow inthe future.Vietnam is also a useful political conduit for Russia in its relations with ASEAN.
From Moscow’s p
oint of view relations with both China and Vietnam can be pursuedsimultaneously without having to make a choice. In the event of conflict Russia