Vietnamese ambassador says Russia to remain top arms seller

By Anh Son, Thanh Nien News

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The HQ-011 Dinh Tien Hoang, a Gepard-class frigate built by the Zelenodolsk shipyard in Russia through a contract with the Vietnamese Navy in 2011. Photo: Mai Thanh Hai

Vietnam's continued acquisition of Russian weapons will depend on regional developments and Hanoi's financial capacity, Vietnamese Ambassador to Russia Nguyen Thanh Son said in a recent interview with Russian news agency Interfax. 
The ambassador made the statement when asked about Hanoi's plans to continue buying weapons from Russia following several orders for submarines, frigates and warships. 
He said Vietnam buys Russian weapons for defensive purposes. 
"We are not going to provoke or quarrel with anyone in the region," he told Interfax on December 20. 
Mr. Son said the contracts are being implemented on time. 
"We have received two subs this year, and all six subs should be delivered in 2016," he said. 
The six diesel-electric submarines are considered improvements over the Kilo-class subs purchased through a US$2-billion deal signed during a visit by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to Russia in 2009. 
The contract requires Russia to deliver everything by 2016, train Vietnamese crews and supply necessary spare parts. 
The ambassador also affirmed that, even though Washington has lifted its embargo on lethal weapon sales to Vietnam, Russia will remain Hanoi's principal military partner. 
"Although the U.S. lifted part of its embargo on the sale of weapons and ammunition to Vietnam last month, Russia is still our priority partner in this sector," he said.

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