US rebukes Vietnam ahead of expected visit by Russia's Putin

HANOI (Reuters) – The United States criticised Vietnam for having invited Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to Hanoi, the U.S. embassy in Hanoi said ahead of an expected state visit this week.

Putin is expected to visit Vietnam on Wednesday and Thursday, after repeated invitations from Vietnamese leaders.

The U.S. has led Western sanctions on Russia following its invasion of neighbouring Ukraine in February 2022. In March last year, the Hague-based International Criminal Court’s (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for the Russian president over alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

“No country should give Putin a platform to promote his war of aggression and otherwise allow him to normalize his atrocities,” a spokesperson for the U.S. embassy in Hanoi said when asked about the impact of the expected visit on ties with the United States.

“If he is able to travel freely, it could normalize Russia’s blatant violations of international law,” the spokesperson added, referring to the invasion that Russia describes as a “special operation”.

The U.S. upgraded relations with Hanoi last year and is Vietnam’s top trading partner.

Vietnam’s foreign ministry did not reply to a request for comment.

Putin’s visit has not yet been formally announced, but multiple officials have confirmed the trip, which would be his first to Vietnam since 2017. The two countries have historically close ties.

“We cannot return to business as usual or turn a blind eye to the clear violations of international law Russia has committed in Ukraine. There needs to be accountability for those responsible for war crimes,” the U.S. embassy spokesperson added.

Neither Vietnam, Russia or the U.S. are members of the ICC.

(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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