This is the first Russia visit of State President Nguyen Xuan Phuc in his new post. The visit, from November 29 to December 2, takes place in the context that the two countries are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the establishment of their strategic partnership (2001-2021).

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) shakes hand with then Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at the ASEAN-Russia Summit in Sochi in 2016. (Photo: Getty)

The history shows that the relationship between Vietnam and the Soviet Union in the past and the Russian Federation at present has always been warm, reliable, overcoming all the tests of time and ups and downs of the  modern era. The Soviet Union was one of the first countries in the world to recognize and officially establish diplomatic relations with Vietnam on January 30, 1950, laying a foundation for present close friendship and fruitful cooperation between the two countries.

The bilateral relations entered a new stage of development after the signing of the Treaty on the Basic Principles of the Friendly Relations between Vietnam and Russia on June 16, 1994. The framework of the Vietnam - Russia relations in the 21st century was formalized by the signing of the Joint Statement on the Strategic Partnership on the occasion of President V. Putin's visit to Vietnam (from February 28 to March 2, 2001). On July 27, 2012, the two countries issued a Joint Statement on further strengthening their comprehensive strategic partnership.

Over the past years, high-level delegation exchanges have been organized regularly, creating a strong impetus for the development of the comprehensive strategic partnership between Vietnam and Russia. The exchanges include the visits to Vietnam of Russian President V. Putin in 2001, 2006, and 2013, of Russian Prime Minister D. Medvedev in 2012, 2015, and 2018); the visits to Russia by Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong in 2014 and 2018; and by then Prime Minister (now President) Nguyen Xuan Phuc in 2016 and 2019, to name but a few. 

Since 2020, despite the complicated developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, the two sides have maintained regular high-level contacts between the two key leaders via online talks, meetings. Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong held phone talks with Russian President V. Putin in April 2021, with Vice Chairman of the Security Council of Russia, Chairman of the United Russia Party D. Medvedev in February 2021. President Nguyen Xuan Phuc had phone talks with his Russian counterpart V. Putin in September 2021. Chairman of the National Assembly Vuong Dinh Hue held phone talks with Chairwoman of the Council of the Russian Federation Valentina Matvienko in June 2021.

Moreover, the two sides have maintained various coordination and dialogue mechanisms such as the annual Diplomatic-Defense-Security Strategic Dialogue at the permanent deputy foreign minister level and the Defense Strategic Dialogue at the deputy defense minister level. The two sides have shared the same views on many international and regional issues, closely coordinated and supported each other at international forums, such as the United Nations, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum, Eurasian Cooperation Forum, and ASEAN Regional Forum.

The economic and trade cooperation between Vietnam and Russia has developed dynamically over the past time, especially since the Free Trade Agreement between Vietnam and the Eurasian Economic Union started to take effect in October 2016. In addition, bilateral trade turnover in 2020 reached nearly 4.85 billion USD, up nearly 9% against 2019.

In the first nine months of this year, bilateral trade turnover reached 3.6 billion USD, an increase of nearly 5% over the same period in 2020. In terms of investment, as of this April, the Russian Federation ranked 25th among the countries and territories investing in Vietnam with 144 projects and the total registered capital of about 944 million USD.

Apart from traditional fields of cooperation such as energy and oil and gas, the two sides have been expanding their cooperation in new fields which Russia has strengths and Vietnam needs such as high technology and science and scientific research. They have been speeding up the implementation of key projects, encouraging and creating conditions for Vietnam - Russia joint ventures and businesses of the two countries to invest in each country.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the two countries have closely coordinated in disease response, especially in COVID-19 vaccine supply, technology transfer, and production in the current period. They have also cooperated in carrying out contracts to supply Russia's Sputnik V vaccine for Vietnam and producing Russian vaccines in Vietnam.

Education-training cooperation continues to be a highlight in the bilateral relationship. In the past, the Soviet Union helped Vietnam train nearly 40,000 competent officers and experts in many specialties. Currently, the Russian Federation continues to support Vietnam in human resource training.

Since 2019, the Russian Federation has increased the number of scholarships for Vietnam to about 1,000 per year. Currently, more than 5,000 Vietnamese students are studying in Russia. Cultural exchange activities are held regularly, contributing to enhancing understanding and friendship between the two peoples.

Together with the fine development in the time-honored traditional friendship and comprehensive strategic partnership between Vietnam and Russia, the bilateral defense cooperation continues to be consolidated and strengthened in the "reliable, practical, comprehensive and effective” spirit. 

Vietnam and Russia have maintained the Intergovernmental Committee on Military Technical Cooperation at the deputy defense ministerial level. The two sides have held defense strategic dialogues at the deputy defense ministerial level and the most recent took place in December 2019. The two sides have kept supporting and actively participated in international multilateral activities hosted by the two defense ministries, especially within the framework of the International Army Games (Army Games).

The Vietnamese community has lived and done business in Russia for three decades now. With about 60,000 - 80,000 people, the Vietnamese community in Russia has made significant contribution to the country and always taken the lead in doing charitable activities. They are important bridges that help develop the bilateral relations between Vietnam and Russia in all fields.

In the context that the two countries’ comprehensive strategic partnership has developed strongly, we believe that President Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s official visit to Russia will be a great success, contributing to tightening the comprehensive strategic partnership in such fields of cooperation as politics, trade-investment, defense-security, education-training, culture and tourism. The visit will also affirm Vietnam's consistent policy that Vietnam considers Russia its top priority partner in foreign policy.

Translated by Mai Huong