31 March 2015
It all began with apparently innocuous activity reported in both the Russian and Vietnamese press citing the Russian Defense Ministry on January 4. According to the reports, Russian Air Force Il-78 Midas tanker planes were granted access last year to Vietnam’s aerodrome facilities in Cam Ranh Bay, located in the southern Vietnamese province of Khanh Hoa. The Il-78s enabled the refueling of Russian Tu-95 “Bear” strategic bombers, which coincided with intensified Russian military flights in the Asia-Pacific, including “Bear” sorties that circled the major U.S. military redoubt in Guam.
These flights, claimed to be a show of strength and for intelligence-gathering purposes, were deemed “provocative” in the eyes of Washington. A request was made to Hanoi “to ensure that Russia is not able to use its access to Cam Ranh Bay to conduct activities that could raise tensions in the region,” according to the U.S. State Department. Moscow rejected Washington’s concerns and defended its military ties with Vietnam.
… Nhina Le is a Research Associate at George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution in the United States. Koh Swee Lean Collin is an Associate Research Fellow at the Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 23/11/2015