“This year a new page will be opened in the history of theVietnamese Navy – it will get a fleet of submarines,” SergeyShoigu told reporters following the meeting with the VietnameseDefense Minister Phung Quang Thanh.The Russian minister said that they reached an agreement onsynchronization in preparing both the submarines and their crews,and also decided that Russian military schools would train moreVietnamese specialists in the nearest future.In earlier comments Shoigu called the cooperation with Vietnamone of the priorities of Russia’s foreign policy and promised thatMoscow would renew active military cooperation with Hanoi.In particular, the two sides discussed the possibility forRussian specialists to use the naval base and the military airportin Cam Rahn. All talks were held in secrecy, but Shoigu’s visit toVietnam started from a trip to Cam Rahn, which was once used bySoviet and then by the Russian Navy, but was abandoned in 2002 dueto lack of funds.Russian experts are divided on the possibility and necessity ofputting Russian military bases in Vietnam. Colonel-General LeonidIvashov, former head of the foreign cooperation department of theRussian Defense Ministry, told the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily thatsuch a step is simply necessary as it would seriously strengthenRussia’s positions in the South East Asia.At the same time, the Interfax news agency quoted an unnamedsource in the Russian Navy HQ as saying that the return of the CamRahn base is not necessary and the issue is not even on theagenda.News of Russia’s future role in the beefing up of the Vietnamesenavy comes on the background of the major international row overthe South China Sea and its major oil and gas deposits.In the latest developments, Vietnam has commenced exploratorydrilling on the sea shelf, but China replied with a note demandingit to stop. Soon after that China declared that the oil under theSouth China Sea was its national asset. Other neighboringcountries, such as the Philippines and Malaysia also voiced claimsto the resource-rich region.
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