Russia, Vietnam vow to strengthen ties as Putin visits

Russia and Vietnam pledged on Thursday to deepen ties as President Vladimir Putin made a state visit aimed at bolstering his alliances to counter Moscow's growing isolation over the war in Ukraine.

Putin traveled to Vietnam, a close ally of Moscow since the days of the Cold War, from a summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un where he won a pledge of "full support" on Ukraine and signed a mutual defense pact.

The Russian leader did not receive such a clear public declaration of support in Hanoi, but Vietnamese President To Lam indicated a desire to boost defense cooperation.

"The two sides want to push up cooperation in defense and security, how to deal with non-traditional security challenges on the basis of international law, for peace and security in the region and the world," Lam told reporters after talks with Putin.

Moscow has been Vietnam's main arms supplier for decades, accounting for more than 80 percent of imports between 1995 and 2023, but orders have dropped off in recent years as international sanctions related to the Ukraine conflict have intensified.

Lam and Putin signed around a dozen cooperation agreements ranging from education to justice and civil nuclear projects.

Putin told reporters the talks were constructive and that both sides had "identical or very close" positions on key international issues.

He said they discussed creating "an adequate and reliable security architecture in Asia-Pacific based on the principles of not resorting to force, and of resolving differences peacefully."

Putin's Asia tour came as Western powers stepped up sanctions aimed at constraining Russia's war in Ukraine.

The United States, Britain and the European Union all announced new sanctions over the past...

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