Clients and Commitments

Soviet-Vietnamese Relations, 1978-1988

by Sally W. Stoecker

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This Note examines the evolution of the Soviet-Vietnamese relationship over the past decade in three contexts: (1) Soviet behavior in supporting the Vietnamese troops during the invasion of Cambodia in late 1978 and in defending them during the Chinese incursion of Vietnam in early 1979, (2) the level of Soviet economic and military aid, and (3) the impact of General Secretary Gorbachev's "new thinking" on Soviet-Vietnamese relations. The record shows a Soviet disinclination to take risks in this region of the world, chiefly because of the proximity to China, even in the late 1970s during the height of Brezhnev's interventionism. Under Gorbachev, not only does interventionism appear remote, but tangible results in reducing tensions in Southeast Asia already have been achieved. Specifically, by September of 1989, thousands of Vietnamese troops left Cambodia, thus fulfilling the third "precondition" set by China on the path to improved Sino-Soviet relations.

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This report is part of the RAND Corporation Note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

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