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Vietnam refuses to receive EU sanctions envoy before Putin's visit

Vietnam refuses to receive EU sanctions envoy before Putin's visit Vietnam challenges the EU (Getty Images)
Author: Maria Kholina

Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a challenge to the European Union, postponing a meeting with a top EU official on Russian sanctions ahead of a potential visit to Hanoi by Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Reuters.

David O'Sullivan, the EU's special envoy for sanctions implementation, is set to visit Southeast Asia next week and had planned to meet with Vietnamese officials on May 13-14. However, Hanoi requested a delay in the meeting, citing that leaders were too busy to meet with him, said a diplomat familiar with the situation.

Three other diplomats confirmed the postponement of the visit, with one stating that Vietnam proposed July as an alternative date.

Two diplomats and another individual familiar with the discussions linked the delay to preparations for a possible visit by Putin to Vietnam. One source stated that the Russian leader's visit could be spoiled by any negotiations with the EU envoy.

Following this, the EU diplomatic mission in Hanoi issued a statement calling the postponement of the meeting disappointing and stating that they are discussing a new date with the Vietnamese authorities.

Vietnam's stance

In recent months, Vietnamese leaders have repeatedly invited Putin to Vietnam, despite the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague issuing an arrest warrant for the Russian president in March 2023 for the kidnapping of Ukrainian children. Vietnam is not a member of the ICC.

According to reports in Vietnamese state media, Russian Ambassador to Vietnam Gennady Bezdetko announced last week that Putin had accepted the invitation and that the date of the visit would be determined after the inauguration for his fifth presidential term on May 7.

Vietnam aims to pursue a neutral foreign policy in its relations with major world powers. It has refrained from condemning Russia's attack on Ukraine, a position Western countries view as too close to the Kremlin.