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Behind Vietnam’s abstention at the United Nations on Ukraine

Great power is something to be wary of, but big power geopolitics is a broader game, and in it there is space for small states to intertwine their interests with big powers and others. In particular, there is also space for small countries to raise their national status in the region and globally.

Pham Quang Vinh, former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, former Ambassador of Vietnam to the US, Chairman of the Vietnam-US Association shared at the seminar “View from the Russia-Ukrainian war: a small country in a powerful political vortex , according to him, the Russian tension – Ukraine Currently, it is deeply rooted in the fact that the US and NATO have expanded their influence to the East during the past years, narrowing Russia’s security space. Russia has also repeatedly warned other countries about that.

When the conflict broke out, it meant that Russia saw the threat that its security space was shrinking, and it also meant that the parties saw the Russian threat to them greater. There seemed to be movements in the landscape of Europe as the war unfolded.

According to Vinh, this war has many causes and different evaluations, but if the plan is to quickly solve the military problem in Ukraine, it has not been resolved for more than a month. It seems that the military solution will not help achieve the set goals of Russia itself, let alone the situation of this war will not allow to achieve that.

Somewhere it will take something other than a military solution, maybe a political solution, like Kiev becoming neutral, like not joining NATO, amending the constitution to drop the goal of joining NATO. Ukraine itself, may well have been well aware that the story of being admitted to NATO would not be the near future.

However, regarding Russia’s territorial claims to Ukraine, such as the issue in Crimea and two breakaway regions in the Donbass, it seems that the Kiev government cannot agree on the negotiating table. And even if there is a political solution, the story has things that go beyond the Russia-Ukraine framework, like the embargo from the European side.

Also at the workshop, Mr. Nguyen Quoc Cuong, former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, who used to be in charge of Europe and Russia, and was also a former Ambassador of Vietnam to the US and Japan, assessed the outbreak. The hostilities between Russia and Ukraine, although predictable, were relatively unexpected. This surprise created a series of unprecedented things.

First, this conflict created the biggest turning point in Europe since the Cold War. The Helsinki Accords signed in 1975 are considered as the framework for post-war European security agreements. This conflict, with the risk of spreading to the whole continent, will lead to a series of economic problems and an immigration crisis, with long-term consequences for Europe in the near future.

Especially, after years of the US government’s view of America first, perhaps this could not be a better time for the US to regroup allied forces. The embargo measures that the US put forward received a very quick response from the West, except for measures directly related to interests such as energy imports from Russia. This is also an aspect that Europe must calculate, to be independent from Russian energy.

The future of this war remains highly unpredictable, and the scenarios, while the implications are far-reaching, pose a huge challenge to international law. Especially creating rifts, between Russia – Ukraine, or Russia – Europe, which may take decades to recover, can push Russia into a jam, not simply.

But clearly, Russia still possesses three important “weapons” to maintain its position in the world. The first is the veto power in the United Nations Security Council, the second is the resources many countries depend on and the second largest nuclear arsenal in the world. So countries, even if they isolate Russia, never forget that.

A reasonable, well-thought-out vote in Vietnam’s interests

According to Mr. Nguyen Quoc Cuong, in this context, there is no “weapon” to protect small and medium-sized countries like international law. Vietnam – among these countries – needs to persevere in its pursuit.

“International law”, “sovereign independence”… are the issues that must be said, because it is our weapon, it cannot be said, it must be said! Talk today, talk tomorrow, talk the next day, say it over and over, always have to say it” – Mr. Cuong emphasized.

Small and mid-sized countries receive support or not, whether their prestige increases or not is from the protection of international law.

Former Deputy Minister Cuong also said that small and medium-sized countries need to pursue diversification and improve self-reliance, not to depend solely on any one party. Especially in terms of network security, it is very necessary to prepare defense skills and deterrence before attack.

Regarding Vietnam’s abstention, he said that this was a reasonable vote, given Vietnam’s position and derived from Vietnam’s own interests. Each time Vietnam votes at the United Nations, not because of anyone’s support, but from Vietnam’s own interests, demonstrating Vietnam’s independent foreign policy and having carefully considered the issue. diplomatic relations with all parties.

Mr. Pham Quang Vinh also affirmed: “We have good relations with Ukraine and Russia. We always want to maintain good relations with both countries. When two friends have conflicts with each other, Vietnam wants tensions to arise. Straight lines are resolved and support for the two sides to dialogue to resolve the issue.


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