Medvedev visits Hanoi; Vietnam in difficulty regarding conflict in Ukraine

Vietnam’s Communist Party Chief Nguyen Phu Trong meets with Medvedev, head of United Russia Party, in Hanoi on May 22.

Vietnam’s top leaders receive Mr. Medvedev, chairman of the long-ruling United Russia Party in Russia, in Hanoi on May 22. Two commentators assessed to VOA that Vietnam, despite some difficulties, still managed to skillfully deal with Russia over the Ukraine war.

Major Vietnamese press agencies, including the Government Newspaper, Voice of Vietnam, and Vietnam Television, said Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh held talks separately with Dmitry Medvedev, who also holds the position of Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation.

Trong and Medvedev “exchanged each side’s assessment of the current international situation, major directions for promoting positive development in the world, and views on issues of mutual concern.” The reports did not specify whether the two leaders specifically mentioned the war in Ukraine.

Still, the Vietnamese press said that the two sides issued a joint statement saying that Medvedev’s visit had several goals: “strengthening cooperation on regional and international issues in order to consolidate peace and security, because interests of the two peoples; protect and strengthen the principles of international law and the Charter of the United Nations.”

Regarding the meeting between Mr. Chinh and Mr. Medvedev, the news in the Vietnamese press did not say whether the two men discussed Ukraine.

State-controlled media wrote that the Vietnamese PM affirmed that the country “always adheres to a foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, peace, friendship, cooperation and development, and diversity. relations, multilateralization; active international integration; is a friend, a reliable partner, an active and responsible member of the international community.”

Observing what Vietnam has done for more than a year since Russia invaded Ukraine, Dr. Ha Hoang Hop, of the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute based in Singapore, told VOA that Vietnam has “difficulty” but “not embarrassed” with Russia about the war:

Vietnam does not take sides. They oppose Russian aggression but do not support having to punish Russia. They support international law for a ceasefire and a peaceful resolution. The Vietnamese government only found it difficult that the war affected Vietnam.”

Entrepreneur Tran Quoc Quan, with his understanding of Eastern Europe and Russia from having lived there for decades, contrasts that while Vietnam wants to maintain its traditional “good” relationship with Russia, the Vietnam’s trade ties and turnover with the European Union and the US are “tens of times larger” than that of Russia.

Therefore, Russia’s invasion and violation of international law make Vietnam “embarrassed,” said Quan, who often comments on the times.

Reviewing the event that Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov visited Vietnam in July last year, not long after Russia invaded many parts of Ukraine, Mr. Quan pointed out that Hanoi at that time “avoided” giving a supportive position. Russia, from which he commented on Mr. Medvedev’s visit today:

Now Medvedev also comes to try to lobby Vietnam to support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Perhaps Vietnam is still cleverly dodging to not show up, not worth showing up to support Russia. Medvedev’s visit is not a state visit, but only a ruling party aspect.”

This commentator, who has tens of thousands of followers on social media, further explained Vietnam’s choice, noting US and Western sanctions:

Vietnam’s interests are too great with the Western bloc and the US. The US has warned that any country that supports Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, even the world’s second largest economy, China, has not yet dared to go against the will of the US and the West, so Vietnam dares not to do so.”

Vietnam welcomed the head of the ruling party in Russia just a day after PM Chinh met and exchanged views with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on the sidelines of the G-7 Summit taking place in Japan.

According to reports from Vietnamese state media, including Tuoi Tre newspaper, about the current conflict in Ukraine, PM Chinh affirmed that Vietnam’s consistent stance is to “respect the United Nations Charter and international law, especially the principles of respecting the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of states, non-interference in internal affairs, non-use of force and threat to use force, all disputes should be resolved by peaceful means.”

Commenting on the meeting between Chinh and Zelenskyy, researcher Ha Hoang Hop told VOA:

The fact that Chinh briefly met Ukrainian President Zelenskyy in Hiroshima, I think it is very normal because it is not normal if we go there and avoid each other. The fact that Chinh met and shook hands with Mr. Zelenskyy expressed Vietnam’s important and legitimate aspiration to create peace.”

Chinh’s meeting with Mr. Zelenskyy in particular and the participation of the Vietnamese PM in the G-7 in general is a positive thing for Vietnam, commentator Tran Quoc Quan assessed and added:

This is a very good opportunity for Vietnam to show the world its views on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Vietnam has so far been consistent about the war, at UN forums as well as at other international forums.”

PM Chinh told President Zelenskyy in Japan that Vietnam hopes relevant parties will soon end the conflict, resume dialogue, and settle disputes by peaceful means, Vietnamese media said.

The press cited information from the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the president of Ukraine “shared the opinions” of the PM and “expressed his appreciation for Vietnam’s stance and humanitarian support.” (Translated)