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Vietnam's purchase of military gear for self-defense: deputy minister

An exercise of Vietnam's military force

Vietnam is buying military equipment at a "moderate" pace for self-protection purposes, the deputy defense minister said in response to international concerns about the country's recent military purchases.

In an interview with Tuoi Tre early this week, Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh said it is "totally normal" that a country buys weapons and other military items for self-defense in accordance with its financial capacity.

"Vietnam is no exception," he said, adding that the country is modernizing its military step by step and that a developed defense system will benefit the economy.

Asked why Vietnam has recently bought submarines, aircrafts and other items from Russia only, Vinh said it is because Vietnam had previously purchased weapons from the former Soviet Union, and now Russia is the country's "reliable strategic partner."

It is "more convenient" to buy weapons with familiar maintenance systems, he said, adding that Russian weapons can be used for tens of years and are being offered to Vietnam at "reasonable" prices.

Another reason, according to the deputy minister, is that military gear produced by Russia is designed primarily for self-defense.

No military alliance

Although Vietnam is considered as "more active" in boosting its defense ties with other nations of late, so far no country has ever asked it to join a military alliance or for permission to set up its military bases within its borders, Vinh said.

Vietnam has "strongly" stated its defense rules no joining military alliances, no allowing foreign military bases in Vietnam, and no supporting one country against another, he said. 

"These are the "˜three No's' of Vietnam's defense."

Asked about the joint-exercises that Vietnam has attended with other countries, the deputy minister said they were "humane," "peaceful" and "constructive" cooperation activities.

They were related to fields like counterterrorism, sea security and search and rescue operations, he added.

"We do not attend military exercises that simulate attacking or threatening a third country."

Expected to join the United Nations peacekeeping force in the "nearest future," Vietnam will only participate in "real peacekeeping operations," meaning that it will not participate in activities within war zones or areas rife with conflict, according to Vinh.

Vietnam will make its own decision on where, when, and how it will join a mission of force, he stressed. 

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