The Soviet Union in Southeast Asia

Author/s (editor/s):

F.A. Mediansky, Dianne Court

Publication year:


Publication type:

Policy paper

Canberra Papers on Strategy and Defence No. 29

In this monograph Dr Fedor Mediansky and Ms Dianne Court examine Soviet interests in Southeast Asia. Their principle focus is on the contemporary (post-1975) period and the discussion in centred more on Indochina than in the rest of the region.

While the Soviet Union's involvement in the region goes back to its Comintern links with local communist movements in the 1920s, the region has been, and remains, of secondary interest to Moscow. The authors find that Moscow's considerable involvement with communist Vietnam stands in contrast to its more discontinuous and rather marginal involvement with the ASEAN states. The close relations that now prevail between Moscow and Hanoi are based on a complex of factors. Parallel strategic concerns and a measure of regional strategic interdependence, long standing ideological links and the isolation of both in Southeast Asia play a large part in the current relationship.

So far as the future is concerned, the authors argue that Soviet-Vietnamese relations are bound to remain close while the two continue to regard China as endangering their security and so long as Vietnam remains isolated. As far as the non-communist states of the region are concerned, the authors see little prospect for a substantial convergence of Soviet and ASEAN interests.

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