HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Vietnam on Wednesday as part of an effort to bolster ties with a country that has not openly condemned its invasion of Ukraine or imposed sanctions against it.
Lavrov, on his way to the Indonesian island of Bali for a meeting of the Group of 20 leading rich and developing nations, sought to strengthen ties with Vietnam, which also has a strong relationship with the United States.
“I expressed my appreciation for the very balanced objective position of Vietnam which is demonstrated by the refusal of this country to join the illegal sanctions,” he said at a news conference after meeting his Vietnamese counterpart, Bui Thanh Son.
Commenting on the situation in Ukraine, Lavrov said the West should realize its responsibility for the deaths of civilians in the regions where Ukraine is using Western weapons.
Lavrov is currently on a trip to Asia to seek support amid his country’s diplomatic isolation by the West and punishing sanctions leveled over its invasion of Ukraine. He visited Mongolia a day before arriving in Vietnam's capital, Hanoi. Mongolia also retains ties with Moscow but has burgeoning relations with Washington.
The visit comes as the two countries marked 10 years since expanding their relationship to a strategic partnership.
The Soviet Union was a close backer of Hanoi’s Communist government during the Vietnam War against the capitalist south and its American and other Western allies.
Lavrov was to leave Vietnam later Wednesday to travel to Indonesia for the G-20 foreign ministers' meeting.