chapter  5
31 Pages

The Soviet Union and Vietnam: Alliance Consolidation

Vietnam rep re sen ts a major stra teg ic gain for the Soviet Union, one th a t was made more durable for the Russians as a re su lt of the Vietnamese invasion of Kampuchea. This act b rough t Vietnam into a position of sustained confrontation against China and also ASEAN which was made possible only by the continuing military and economic assistance of the Soviet Union. Vietnamese leaders had in tended to use the Soviet Union in the process of bargain ing with the Chinese and had placed them selves in a vulnerable position of depen­ dence upon the R ussians accordingly. Soviet lead ers , in tu rn , had learned th a t lasting gains in the T hird World requ ired the fostering of dependent relationships which entailed economic costs . Indeed, it would be misleading to adopt a narrow economic criterion to assess Vietnam's value to the Soviet Union as though th a t value can be quantified . As a s tra teg ic gain Vietnam rep re sen ts a positional benefit for the Soviet Pacific Fleet in term s of ex tending i ts reach into the Indian Ocean and as a means of applying p re ssu re against China. In th is re sp ec t, Vietnam is a forw ard position in a s tra teg y determ ined by an opportun istic search for advantage against both great power adversaries - the United S tates and China.