As time goes by, the leaders of the two countries have cemented and deepened this relationship of significant importance for the benefits of the two countries. During the incumbent Vietnamese Prime Minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s visit to Russia, from May 16 to 19, 2016, the two sides signed nine cooperation agreements in the areas of oil and gas, investments, and agriculture, and further  agreed on measures to boost cooperation in trade, education and training, humane culture, technical development, tourism, military and security. Meanwhile, the Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, stressed that Russia has paid due attention to not only the energy sector but also other sectors.

Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong (L) receiving President Vladimir Putin

Russia companies have invested in nearly 100 big projects in Vietnam, apart from oil and gas and energy industries which are considered to be of strategic importance, said the Russian Prime Minister.

We expect that this cooperation will bring benefits for both countries such as in high-tech, agriculture, mineral exploitation, ship-building and tourism, he added.

During that visit to Russia, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc also inaugurated the construction of the Vietnamese TH True Milk Corp’s Cow Complex in Russia, worth USD 2.7 billion.

The two countries have also maintained the mechanism of the Vietnam-Russia Intergovernmental Committee for Economic-Commercial and Scientific-Technological Cooperation and established the Vietnam-Russia Business Council to implement successfully all related signed agreements. Particularly, in 2017, the two countries recognized each other as a market economy, facilitating businesses of either side to penetrate into the other’s market.

The development of the extensive and intensive cooperation of the two countries proves that the right approach resulted from the strategic decision of their leaders made in 2001. However, in 2012, leaders of the two countries held that the bilateral  trade was still very modest , at merely USD 4 billion, though it was much higher than that of the 1990s, when it was just about USD 200 to 300 million. Meanwhile, the two sides raised the targets to USD 7 billion in 2015 and target to reach USD 9 billion in 2020.

Inheriting some good results of the previous visits, President Tran Dai Quang’s visit to Russia, from June 28 to July 1, 2017, opened up a new page of the relations between the two countries. The warm reception for the Vietnamese delegation from President Putin and the Russian Duma was a vivid manifestation of the decree, signed by Putin in 2015, on foreign relations, announcing that Vietnam was one of the three prioritized countries in Russia’s foreign policy. Apart from the open talks, the Russian President also held a retreat with his Vietnamese counterpart, lasting three times longer than originally scheduled. At the talks, President Putin expressed his political trust in Vietnam that all of the signed agreements to date would be fully implemented and, at the same time, highly valued the work which Vietnam has carried out in this implementation, reaffirming that Russia would promote cooperation with Vietnam and the country would pay special attention to developing human resources and modern technology transfer to Vietnam, and would remain  determined to raise the two-way trade to USD 10  billion in 2020.

In their joint statement, the two sides reviewed the situation and prospect of consolidating their comprehensive strategic partnership, worked out measures to boost bilateral relations in prioritized fields and discussed regional and international issues of mutual concern. The two sides shared their expectations to promote their multi-faceted relations, based on the tradition of friendship and mutual respect and stressing the importance of strengthening relations in trade and investment, science and technology, education and training, as well as defense and security. Particularly noteworthy was the fact that 14 agreements which were signed during the visit, offer the possibility of a brilliant future.

President Tran Dai Quang and Putin agreed to continue cooperation on the establishment of a Center for Nuclear Science and Technology in Vietnam and support the consistent implementation of the Vietnam-Russia Cooperation Program on Peaceful Usage of Nuclear Power, signed on May 23, 2017, in Hanoi. In that spirit, Russia will continue to train nearly 500 Vietnamese students to work for the center. So far, over 5% of the Vietnamese students in Russia benefit from the Russian government’s scholarship program. The two sides agreed to organize the “Russian Year in Vietnam” and the “Vietnamese Year in Russia” in 2019 with various activities to boost cooperation in trade and investment, science and technology, culture, education, and others.

Relating to regional and international issues, President Tran Dai Quang and Putin were committed to establishing an international order and stability, based on multilateral principles, to settle urgent issues, highlighting international law, including the UN Charter which comprises of principles of respecting sovereignty, territorial integrity and lawful interests of each nation. The two leaders applauded Russia’s efforts to fight terrorism and seek political solutions to the crisis in Syria on the basis of international law and the UN Charter, as well as its efforts at Astana and Geneva negotiation mechanisms.

Vietnam and Russia agreed to boost collective efforts to build a fair, integrated, open, comprehensive and transparent security structure in the Asia-Pacific region on the basis of adherence to international law and the principles of mutual respect, peaceful settlement of disputes, non-interference into countries’ internal affairs, no use or threat of use of force, including maintaining dialogue within the framework of the East Asia Summit and other regional forums with ASEAN playing the central role.

They shared the view that border and territorial disputes and other conflicts in the Asia-Pacific region should be settled by peaceful means without the use of or threat to use force and on the basis of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, in order to ensure peace, stability and security and in the region.

The two countries back the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (South China Sea) as well as the early formation of a Code of Conduction in the East Sea.

Moreover, the Russian President accepted with pleasure, an invitation to visit Vietnam at the end of 2017 (his fourth visit to Vietnam as President).

Together with advantages, we are fully aware of difficulties that we have to face in a complicated international situation. However, with the two leaders’ political determination and their partnership, we strongly believe that the Vietnam-Russia partnership will reach new heights, all the while striving for peace, stability, friendship, and prosperity.

Written by Nguyen Hong Vinh – Former member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Former Editor-in-Chief of the Nhan Dan Newspaper

Translated by Nam Long