Russian aircraft have been using a former U.S. airbase in Vietnam for provocative sorties against the U.S. and its allies. Now, Washington is asking it’s sort-of-friend in Hanoi if it would be so kind as to stop enabling Russia’s reckless behavior. Reuters reports:
General Vincent Brooks, commander of the U.S. Army in the Pacific, told Reuters the planes had conducted “provocative” flights, including around the U.S. Pacific Ocean territory of Guam, home to a major American air base.It is the first time that U.S. officials have confirmed the role of Cam Ranh Bay, a natural deep-water harbor, in Russian bomber plane activity that has increased globally. […]Washington is keen to secure greater access itself to Cam Ranh Bay as part of its strategic “pivot” to Asia to counter China’s growing strength in the region. U.S. ships have visited for repairs in recent years.Vietnam, in turn, has sought closer U.S. ties as a hedge against what it sees as China’s aggression, but remains close to Russia in both defense and energy cooperation.
Vietnam’s decision to allow the Russians to use its base highlights the schizophrenic nature of its current relations with the United States. Hanoi wants Washington’s support over issues of Chinese territorial aggression in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, but it’s old friendship with Russia and Russia’s model of government clearly aren’t gone. It will be interesting to watch this play out: How Hanoi responds to Washington’s request may go a ways towards telling us which consideration Vietnam is ultimately more concerned with.