HANOI: The Vietnamese defense minister said on Tuesday that the current visit of his Russian counterpart to Vietnam would strengthen bilateral military ties, which have seen a significant improvement in the last few years.
Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov arrived on Monday in Hanoi to meet with the Vietnamese leadership and discuss the prospects of military cooperation between the two countries.
“I am certain that these meetings will give a new boost to our bilateral ties in the defense sphere,” Gen. Phung Quang Thanh said during talks with Serdyukov.
In response, the Russian minister said that Russia considered Vietnam its strategic partner and welcomed the steady development of friendly relations with the south-east Asian state.
Russia and Vietnam have cooperated in the military sphere since 1953. In 1998, Moscow and Hanoi signed an intergovernmental agreement on military cooperation, and a relevant Russian-Vietnamese intergovernmental commission was established in 1999.
In October 2008, during the Vietnamese president’s visit to Moscow, Russia and Vietnam set up a strategy of military and technical cooperation until 2020 by signing an inter-governmental memorandum.
Vietnam is gradually turning into the major buyer of Russian armaments after India, with several contracts worth billions of U.S. dollars signed recently.
The country became Russia’s biggest arms client in 2009, having ordered six Kilo-class Project 636 diesel-electric submarines worth $4 billion and eight Su-30MK2 Flanker-C multirole fighters worth $400 million.
The contracts signed since the start of 2010 are estimated at $1 billion, including the order of 12 additional 12 Su-30MK2 fighters.