The Biden administration is reportedly in advanced discussions with Vietnam regarding a significant arms transfer, marking a historic shift in relations between the two former Cold War adversaries. This potential deal comes as Vietnam elevates the United States to its highest diplomatic status, placing it alongside major powers like China and Russia.
Historically, Vietnam has relied heavily on Russia for its defense needs, with Moscow supplying approximately 80% of Vietnam’s military arsenal. However, recent geopolitical events, including the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, have complicated Vietnam’s relationship with Russia. This has prompted Vietnam to explore alternative sources for its defense imports, which currently amount to around $2 billion annually.
The proposed arms deal with the US could see Vietnam acquiring a fleet of American F-16 fighter jets, among other advanced weaponry. Such a move is seen as a strategic effort by Vietnam to bolster its maritime defenses, especially given the rising tensions in the disputed South China Sea region.
While the deal is viewed as a testament to the strengthening ties between Washington and Hanoi, it could potentially strain relations with China. Beijing has historically been wary of Western efforts to contain its influence in the region.
The finalization of the deal is expected within the next year, although official confirmations from both parties are still awaited.