Thailand flirts with Russia as US ties cool

(From Reuters)

Thailand is pursuing closer ties — and possible arms deals — with Russia, with relations between Thailand and its traditional partner, the United States, cooling in the wake of a May 2014 coup.

Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan

Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan

Two Thai deputy prime ministers will travel to Russia, just weeks after a visit to Bangkok by the powerful head of Russia’s security council, Nikolai Patrushev.

On the table, officials from both countries say, are wide-ranging talks on trade and security cooperation, as Russia seeks to develop its position as an Asian power.

Most attention has been focused on Thailand’s warming ties with China, including talks on a massive rail project and the possible purchase of $1 billion worth of Chinese-made submarines.

But Russia appears keen to compete for Thailand’s attention.

In the past 18 months, Thai junta leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha has met three times with Russian Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev, who visited Thailand in April 2015, the Russian ambassador to Thailand, Kirill Barsky, said.

Prayuth will travel to Russia in May for a meeting between Russia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Read More



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