After all, Vietnam doesn’t need India’s BrahMos supersonic missiles — that is, even if India has surplus stocks to sell. Strategic pundits based in the West went into a tizzy last year, fantasizing that through deals such as BrahMos, Vietnam is offering India an entry-point through which its can “penetrate China’s periphery”.
Without harbouring any such erotic intentions toward China, Russia is planning to build production facilities in Vietnam for the production of similar supersonic missiles, which can be launched from helicopters, surface ships and coastal defence batteries with a range of up to 250 kilometers carrying a 145 kg high explosive warhead. China doesn’t seem to be upset over the development; Russia-China coordination on world politics is at an all-time high level.
Of course, Russia won’t miss out on a lucrative arms deal. The target set for arms exports in 2012 is around 15 billion dollars. What is unclear, though, is whether there is also a quid pro quo from Vietnam. We have been hearing for a while that Russian navy is ready to rebuild Cam Ranh Bay, US’s main Air Force base during the Vietnam War. Cam Ranh Bay became the Soviet Union’s largest foreign naval base in 1979 after signing a 25-year lease, but two years before the lease expired, Hanoi asked Moscow to pay rent, whereupon Russian navy quit. Indeed, Russia is presently gearing up for a bigger role in the Asia-Pacific security.
The backdrop of US-Russia tensions also needs to be factored in. Russia’s Chief of General Staff, General Nikolai Makarov warned on Tuesday that Moscow would respond if Washington deployed warships in the Black Sea or Arctic.
– February 15, 2012