While entering into a deep confrontation with the West in the context of the Ukrainian crisis, Russia has sought to uphold its international profile by upgrading its strategic partnership with China and adding new economic content to it, first of all in energy deals. At the same time, Moscow is aware of the risks related to becoming a minor partner to powerful China and to diminishing its ability to make its own contributions to forming the global agenda. One way of avoiding too much dependence on Chinese patronage would be to retain and cultivate the traditional ties with Vietnam and perhaps even play a pacifying role in the oscillating Chinese-Vietnamese tensions. Russian energy companies are exploring opportunities for further advancing offshore oil and gas projects in the South China Sea, although the profitability of these projects remains rather low. Russia has delivered two out of six contracted Kilo class submarines to Vietnam, but its role as the main provider of weapons may now be challenged by the USA and Japan. The prospects for maintaining or expanding Russia’s security and energy connections with Vietnam is thus a demanding topic for analysis, which may throw light also on the all-important trilateral relationship between China, the USA and Japan.
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