Vietnam places orders for Russian weapons worth over $1 billion: TASS

HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam has placed orders for Russian weapons and military services worth more than $1 billion, Russia’s TASS news agency has reported, as the Southeast Asian country bolsters its defense capability.

“We have a portfolio of orders worth more than $1 billion,” TASS cited Dmitry Shugayev, head of Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, as saying on Thursday.

The report came during a visit to Russia by Nguyen Phu Trong, the general secretary of Vietnam’s Communist Party.

It did not give any details of the deals.

Vietnam and Russia have had close relations for decades.

Russia is Vietnam’s biggest weapons supplier and Russian companies are involved in several Vietnamese energy projects.

Vietnam had earlier bought six state-of-the-art Kilo attack submarines, along with several warships, jet fighters and other military equipment from Russia.

“The two sides have confirmed their commitment to continue developing their military ties,” Vietnam’s Communist Party said in a statement on Friday, after a meeting in Russia between Trong and Russian President Vladamir Putin.

Vietnam has been one of the world’s most active arms importers over recent years, amid China’s increasingly aggressive territorial claims in the South China Sea, where the neighbors have long-standing rival claims.

Vietnamese and Russian companies signed several cooperation agreements during Trong’s visit, including three on banking cooperation, according to the Vietnamese government.

Reporting by Khanh Vu; Editing by Robert Birsel