Russia to help launch Vietnam's submarines this yr



Hanoi: Moscow will proceed with plans this year to help Vietnam launch a new submarine fleet and train the crews, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday.

"This year our joint efforts will open a new page in Vietnam's navy - a new fleet will appear," Shoigu said after talks with his Vietnamese counterpart Defence Minister General Phung Quang Thanh.

Shoigu said the two ministers discussed "crew training and preparation of the submarines", for which Russian military schools will provide assistance.

In 2009, Vietnam ordered a fleet of six Russian Project 636M diesel-electric (Kilo class) attack submarines, in a step seen as an effort to counterbalance China's expanding maritime influence in the region.

The two nations remain in dispute over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

Earlier this week, Shoigu visited Khanh Hoa Province's Cam Ranh Port, which was Russia's largest naval base outside its territory until 2002.

IANS