Analysis: Vietnam shifts gears on arms trade as it loosens ties with Russia

December 7, 20225:18 PM GMT+7

By Francesco Guarascio and Khanh Vu

International Army Games 2022 in Moscow region
T-72 B3 tank operated by a crew from Vietnam fires during the Tank Biathlon competition at the International Army Games 2022 in Alabino, outside Moscow, Russia August 16, 2022. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

HANOI, Dec 7 (Reuters) – Vietnam is eyeing a major defence shift as it seeks to reduce its reliance on Russian arms and launch a push to export locally made weapons, officials and analysts said, with possible buyers in Africa, Asia – and potentially even Moscow.

The Southeast Asian nation is one of the world’s 20 biggest buyers of weapons amid on-and-off tensions with China, with an annual budget for arms imports estimated at about $1 billion and set to grow, according to GlobalData, a provider of military procurement intelligence.

Most of that money has historically gone to Russia, which was for decades Vietnam’s main supplier of weapons and defence systems. That made Vietnam one of the top buyers of Russian arms, according to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which tracks global military expenditures.

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Russia’s war in Ukraine challenges old comrades in Southeast Asia

AljazeeraVladimir Putin’s absence from the G20 Summit in Bali also undermines talk of a Russian pivot to the Asia-Pacific region.

Indonesian police line up during a security parade on November 7, 2022 in preparation for the G20 meeting in Bali, Indonesia.
Indonesian police line up during a security parade on November 7, 2022, in preparation for the G20 meeting in Bali, Indonesia [File: Firdia Lisnawati/AP] (AP Photo)

By Al Jazeera Staff

Published On 15 Nov 202215 Nov 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin has oozed a casual resentment when describing the “irreversible and even tectonic changes” that he says have led the West to become a spent force in the world.

“Western countries are striving to maintain a former world order that is beneficial only to them,” he told attendees at the Eastern Economic Forum in the Russian city of Vladivostok in September.

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Anti-Western and hyper macho, Putin’s appeal in Southeast Asia

AljazeeraSoviet-era nostalgia and anti-Western sentiment fuel online support for Russia’s Vladimir Putin and his war on Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin looks through the scope as he shoots a Chukavin sniper rifle (SVC-380) during a visit to the military Patriot Park in Kubinka, outside Moscow, in September 2018 [File: Alexey Nilkolsky/Sputnik/ AFP]
Russian President Vladimir Putin looks through a scope as he shoots a Chukavin sniper rifle (SVCh-380) during a visit to the military Patriot Park in Kubinka, outside Moscow, in September 2018 [File: Alexey Nilkolsky/Sputnik/ AFP]

By Al Jazeera Staff

Published On 18 Nov 202218 Nov 2022

While the West has united in condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, opinions differ markedly in parts of the developing world where Russia is not reviled but revered for what some see as its stance against the West and its hypocrisies.

In Southeast Asia, a region dominated for decades by “strongman” political leaders and where nostalgia for the Soviet Union persists in some quarters, Russian President Vladimir Putin has a strong following among social media users who are sympathetic to his invasion of Ukraine and find his macho self-image appealing.

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Ukraine’s true detectives: the investigators closing in on Russian war criminals – podcast

the guardian

Written by Lauren Wolfe, read by Kelly Burke and produced by Jessica Beck. The executive producer was Max Sanderson

Fri 11 Nov 2022 05.00 GMT Last modified on Fri 11 Nov 2022 17.40 GMT

Across the country, fact-finding teams are tirelessly gathering evidence and testimony about Russian atrocities, often within hours of troops retreating. Turning this into convictions will not be easy, or quick, but the task has begun 

empty graves after the exhumation of bodies in the mass grave created during the Russian's occupation in the town of Izyum, Kharkiv region, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine
 Photograph: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images

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Russia bans 45 foreign-owned banks or banking units from selling their shares

Logo of Swiss bank Credit Suisse is seen in Zurich

[1/3] The logo of Swiss bank Credit Suisse is seen at its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland October 4, 2022. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

  • This content was produced in Russia where the law restricts coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine

MOSCOW, Oct 26 (Reuters) – Russia on Wednesday banned dealings in the shares or share capital of 45 banks or banking units, all either owned by parties in countries that Russia terms “unfriendly” or owned through foreign capital.

Western countries and allies, including Japan, have piled financial restrictions on Russia since it sent troops into Ukraine in late February. Moscow retaliated with obstacles for Western businesses and their allies leaving Russia, and in some cases seized their assets.

The list followed a decree issued on Aug. 5 by President Vladimir Putin banning dealings in stakes in the financial and energy sectors owned by parties in “unfriendly” countries unless specific permission was given. read more read more

The list, published on Wednesday, included Russian units of Intesa (ISP.MI), Credit Suisse (CSGN.S), Raiffeisen (RBIV.VI), Citi (C.N), OTP bank <OTPB.BU> and UniCredit Bank (CRDI.MI), as well as the Russian Yandex-Bank and Ozon-Bank.

Citi, the largest Wall Street bank to have a presence in Russia with an exposure of $8 billion, plans to wind down nearly all of the institutional banking services as it is unable to sell the business amid the recent sanctions-related laws. read more read more read more

Vietnam’s wood trade under pressure from logging, Ukraine war

nikkei Murky origins plague furniture sector coming down from COVID-fueled buying spree

A company displays lumber in Vietnam, whose wood products industry is grappling with risks ranging from the Ukraine war to fake forest certificates and U.S. trade probes. (Photo by Lien Hoang)

LIEN HOANG, Nikkei staff writerOctober 28, 2022 16:08 JST

HO CHI MINH CITY — Reputational risks are piling up for a Vietnamese lumber industry already beset by a falloff in demand from the heights of the pandemic.

One of the world’s biggest wood and furniture exporters, Vietnam enjoyed a surge in orders when overseas buyers spent COVID lockdowns renovating their home offices and kitchens.

But the Southeast Asian country faces accusations of importing Chinese goods for re-export with “Made in Vietnam” labels since the onset of the China-U.S. tariff war in 2018. Now an actual war in Ukraine is stoking concern that sanctioned products from Russia may be routed through Vietnam, which maintains a neutral stance on the conflict between Kyiv and Moscow, as it does with Beijing and Washington. A third concern, about logging of fuel wood, has added to the pressure.

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Nước Đức và nỗi lo năng lượng: Thu qua đông tới, cho lòng hiu quạnh

JULIAN HUESMANN 17/10/2022 09:21 GMT+7

TTCT Trong bối cảnh xung đột giữa các nước châu Âu và Nga, giá năng lượng ở Đức đã tăng vọt đến mức khiến đại đa số người Đức băn khoăn trước tình hình sinh hoạt trong mùa đông sắp tới.

Nước Đức và nỗi lo năng lượng: Thu qua đông tới, cho lòng hiu quạnh - Ảnh 1.

Ảnh: Morning Consult

“Chúng ta lại vô địch thế giới”, một tay phóng viên giễu cợt trên truyền hình Đức, nhưng lần này không phải là chức vô địch World Cup hay số xe hơi bán ra. “Năng lượng của chúng ta có giá cao nhất thế giới”. 

Tôi đã biết trước giá năng lượng ở Đức sẽ tăng cao, kể cả trước khi chiến tranh ở Ukraine nổ ra, nhưng “vô địch thế giới” thì quả là bất ngờ. Tượng trưng cho cuộc khủng hoảng hiện tại, mới đây tòa nhà Reichstag – trụ sở của chính quyền liên bang Đức – đã tắt đèn tối thui “làm gương” trong chuyện tiết kiệm năng lượng.

Suốt mấy thập niên qua, Đức hưởng lợi từ khí đốt giá rẻ của Nga thời Tổng thống Vladimir Putin. Còn năm nay, ngay cả trước khi hai đường ống cung cấp khí đốt chính là Dòng phương Bắc 1 và 2 gặp sự cố, Đức đã không nhận khí đốt từ Nga nữa, mà thay vào đó là từ các nước đồng minh như Hà Lan và Na Uy.

Trước cuộc chiến, Đức phụ thuộc nguồn cung từ Nga cho hơn 50% nhu cầu năng lượng (khí đốt và than đốt), nên cuộc khủng hoảng hiện giờ là dễ hiểu. Đây thậm chí được coi là mối đe dọa chưa từng thấy với cả nền kinh tế và sự giàu có của nước Đức kể từ Thế chiến II. 

Giới lãnh đạo kinh tế và chính trị trong nước đột ngột nhận ra họ đã tham gia một cuộc chơi nguy hiểm và giờ đang phải trả giá đắt, theo đúng nghĩa đen.

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Russia using rape as ‘military strategy’ in Ukraine: UN envoy

By Philip Wang, Tim Lister, Josh Pennington and Heather Chen, CNN

CNN

Updated 2:35 AM EDT, Sat October 15, 2022

Pramila Patten, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, at a Security Council meeting in New York in 2018.

Pramila Patten, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, at a Security Council meeting in New York in 2018.Xinhua/ShutterstockCNN — 

Russia is using rape and sexual violence as part of its “military strategy” in Ukraine, a UN envoy said this week.

The claim follows data released by a panel of UN experts recently that verified “more than a hundred cases” of rape or sexual assault incidents reported in Ukraine since February.

“When you hear women testify about Russian soldiers equipped with Viagra, it’s clearly a military strategy,” Pramila Patten, UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, said in an interview with AFP on Thursday.

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The Sources of Russian Misconduct – A Diplomat Defects From the Kremlin

Foreignaffair.com – November/December 2022

“the Author BORIS BONDAREV worked as a diplomat in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2002 to 2022, most recently as a counsellor at the Russian Mission to the United Nations Office in Geneva. He resigned in May to protest the invasion of Ukraine.

For three years, my workdays began the same way. At 7:30 a.m., I woke up, checked the news, and drove to work at the Russian mission to the United Nations Office in Geneva. The routine was easy and predictable, two of the hallmarks of life as a Russian diplomat.читать статью по-русски (Read in Russian)
February 24 was different. When I checked my phone, I saw startling and mortifying news: the Russian air force was bombing Ukraine. Kharkiv, Kyiv, and Odessa were under attack. Russian troops were surging out of Crimea and toward the southern city of Kherson. Russian missiles had reduced buildings to rubble and sent residents fleeing. I watched videos of the blasts, complete with air-raid sirens, and saw people run around in panic.

As someone born in the Soviet Union, I found the attack almost unimaginable, even though I had heard Western news reports that an invasion might be imminent. Ukrainians were supposed to be our close friends, and we had much in common, including a history of fighting Germany as part of the same country. I thought about the lyrics of a famous patriotic song from World War II, one that many residents of the former Soviet Union know well: “On June 22, exactly at 4:00 a.m., Kyiv was bombed, and we were told that the war had started.” Russian President Vladimir Putin described the invasion of Ukraine as a “special military operation” intended to “de-Nazify” Russia’s neighbor. But in Ukraine, it was Russia that had taken the Nazis’ place
“That is the beginning of the end,” I told my wife. We decided I had to quit.

Resigning meant throwing away a twenty-year career as a Russian diplomat and, with it, many of my friendships. But the decision was a long time coming. When I joined the ministry in 2002, it was during a period of relative openness, when we diplomats could work cordially with our counterparts from other countries. Still, it was apparent from my earliest days that Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs was deeply flawed. Even then, it discouraged critical thinking, and over the course of my tenure, it became increasingly belligerent. I stayed on anyway, managing the cognitive dissonance by hoping that I could use whatever power I had to moderate my country’s international behavior.
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How Russian timber bypasses U.S. sanctions by way of Vietnam

A new report says Russian birch wood is routed through Asia before being shipped to American stores.

Washingtonpost – By Michael Tatarski

Plywood allegedly made from Russian birch is being loaded on a ship in Haiphong, Vietnam, for export to the United States in May 2022. (Obtained by Environmental Investigation Agency)

October 1, 2022 at 2:00 a.m. EDT

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam — Russian birch wood has continued to flow to American consumers, disguised as Asian products, despite U.S. economic sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, a new report says.

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a nonprofit watchdog group based in Britain, has found that most birch products currently being exported from Vietnam to the United States originate in Russia. According to Vietnam customs data, roughly 40,000 cubic meters of birch wood is transported every month from Russia andChina into Vietnam, where it’s assembled into furniture and plywood.

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Update by the Chair of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, at the 51st session of the Human Rights Council

23 September 2022

Erik Møse, Chair of the Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine

RELATES

PRESS RELEASES Human Rights Council holds clustered interactive dialogue on the right to privacy and on cultural rights

NEWS Human Rights Committee holds general discussion in preparation for a general comment on the right of peaceful assembly

STATEMENTS AND SPEECHES Strengthening the work of the Security Council on sexual and gender-based violence in conflict: the strategic use of evidence from UN investigations

Ukrainian version (Word)

Distinguished President,

Excellencies,

Together with Ms. Jasminka Džumhur and Mr. Pablo de Greiff, I will present an update on the progress of the work of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, in conformity with this Council’s resolution 49/1, adopted in March 2022.

Last time the Commissioners were present at the Human Rights Council was in May this year. The Council then requested the Commission, in resolution S-34/1, to address events that took place in late February and March 2022 in the areas of Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy, and to brief the Council on the progress of that inquiry as part of its oral update in September. Consequently, we have so far mainly focused on events in those four regions.

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People flee Russia after Putin’s military call-up

Putin’s war in Ukraine, as he calls up 300,000 reservists and thousands of Russian citizens flee the country.

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Chinese energy companies lobby junta to import Russian gas

frontiermyanmar.net

A leaked junta memo shows three Chinese firms appealing to Nay Pyi Taw to arrange liquified natural gas imports from Russia amid economic turmoil in Myanmar.

By FRONTIER

A leaked document from the junta’s Ministry of Electric Power reveals that three Chinese energy companies appealed to the junta for help importing liquified natural gas from the Russian government, as the regime’s economic policies wreak havoc on the energy sector.

The document, in the form of a memo, indicates a meeting took place on July 25 in Nay Pyi Taw with representatives from MoEP, Hong Kong-listed VPower and Chinese state-owned firms CNTIC and Genertec. (VPower is also part-owned by CITIC, another Chinese state-owned investment firm).

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