Author Topic: Vietnam: "Principled neutrality" in Russia-Ukraine conflict  (Read 1636 times)

adroth

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Vietnam: "Principled neutrality" in Russia-Ukraine conflict
« on: April 05, 2022, 08:31:45 AM »
Explaining the Vietnamese Public’s Mixed Responses to the Russia-Ukraine Crisis
Russian President Vladimir Putin has attracted both admirers and detractors among the country’s active netizens.

By To Minh Son
March 18, 2022

https://thediplomat.com/2022/03/explaining-the-vietnamese-publics-mixed-responses-to-the-russia-ukraine-crisis/


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For Vietnam, the timing of the conflict could not be more awkward: it comes three months after Hanoi and Moscow celebrated the 20th anniversary of their comprehensive strategic partnership and barely two weeks after the 30th anniversary of Vietnam’s relations with Ukraine. Caught off guard by Russia’s sudden aggression against one of its comprehensive partners, Vietnam finds itself in a diplomatic bind.

Echoing the minimalist response of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Vietnam has responded euphemistically with expressions of “deep concern” and calls for “peaceful solutions” to the armed conflict, without naming any countries. Given Vietnam’s friendly relationships with the parties involved – particularly Russia, its largest arms supplier – such a tepid response perhaps comes as no surprise. The country responded similarly to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, quietly acceding to, and later affirming, the controversial referendum that followed.

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This time, however, absent an opinionated stance by the state, opinions in the Vietnamese press appear uncharacteristically mixed. The press has largely deviated from its typically pro-Russia coverage and provided detailed, if largely neutral, accounts of the conflict. This shift appears to have started when Russia began its invasion of Ukraine. Coverage of NATO expansionism and the Western role in escalating the conflict has decreased since the invasion occurred.

The press coverage now centers on other aspects of the conflict in Ukraine, while avoiding framing it as “an invasion.” Some emphasize the economic ramifications for Vietnam, especially rising oil prices, and draw lessons from Russia’s and Ukraine’s miscalculations for a restrained and neutral solution to the conflict. Others provide a humanitarian outlook by publishing images of overseas Vietnamese huddled in bunkers and the perspective of the Ukrainian chargé d’affaires in Vietnam. Some military-affiliated sites amplify Russian news and propaganda, while some mainstream and diplomatic sites are subtly critical of Russian aggression.

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Current Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, speaking during Vietnam’s 31st Diplomatic Conference last year, summarized the country’s current diplomatic approach thus: “We do not choose sides, but choose the right cause of our time.” Yet as the international community swings further toward support for Ukraine, Vietnam may grapple even more with the exact nature of its “right cause.” Vietnamese neutrality, principled though it may be, is being tested as its citizens and neighbors ponder corrosive effects of Russia’s actions upon its long-cherished principles of sovereignty and international law.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2022, 08:33:32 AM by adroth »