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Were there Soviet troops in the Vietnam War
In the 1960s as the conflict in Vietnam turned into an all-out war
America became increasingly involved in supporting the capitalist South Vietnamese government
Against the Communists in North Vietnam led by President Ho Chi Minh
In 1964 the u.s. Started to send large numbers of military ground troops and Air Force units
this was because of the Gulf of Tonkin incident where North Vietnamese torpedo boat allegedly attacked the USS Maddox the
Events of 1964 started a trend that saw the United States deploy
ever-increasing numbers of troops to directly fight the North Vietnamese Army and the Viacom
by 1969 the United States had
534 thousand military personnel deployed in the Vietnam theatres of war
Alongside them were also a significant number of troops from its allies including those from Laos Cambodia
South Korea, Thailand, Australia
Taiwan the Philippines and New Zealand
Against this backdrop the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China started to increasingly support the North Vietnamese
Communist government as they hope to expand the number of communist states in Asia
Unlike the American involvement the Soviet Union’s engagement in the Vietnam War was highly secretive
However, what can be gathered is that they gave direct and indirect aid to the North Vietnamese on a vast scale?
But stop short of putting actual Soviet combat troops onto the front lines
Prior to the Gulf of Tonkin incident Soviet interest in North Vietnam had been minimal barring the obligatory communist solidarity
however
the increasing presence of America in the region led to the Soviet Union
Fearing that the balance of power in the region set by the Geneva Accords could be disturbed
The Soviets also feared that if North Vietnam fell to the Americas they would lose prestige
Amongst the ongoing and often communists led decolonization struggles in the third world
Moreover following the sino-soviet split the Soviets sought to increase their influence in Vietnam at the expense of China
Therefore under the new leadership of Chairman Leonid Brezhnev the Soviets gave vast amounts of equipment to the North Vietnamese to assist with their war
effort
by 1969 the Soviet Union replaced China as North Vietnam biggest supporter and was supplying Ho Chi Minh’s government with around one and a
half billion dollars worth of aid annually
They supplied Ho Chi Minh’s government with small arms including huge numbers of Russian made
Ak-47 assault rifles they also supplied tanks jet aircrafts
helicopters trucks artillery guns and medical expertise
The Soviets even trained North Vietnamese personnel in the Soviet Union at various military schools and academies
Moreover around 2000 Soviet advisers were stationed in Vietnam assisting with radar and anti-aircraft installations
Typical weapons supplied were the pt-76 amphibious light tanks
supersonic mig-21 interceptors man portable RPG — recoilless rocket launchers an
s60 57-millimeter anti-aircraft guns
It’s estimated that by the late
1960s as much as 75% of all military and technical equipment being supplied to the north vietnamese army was of Soviet origin
And over 10,000 Soviet military personnel were either stationed in Vietnam or visited there as observers throughout the conflict
However, it should be remembered that the assistance given by the Soviets paled in comparison to that given by the Americans to the South Vietnamese
The Soviet aid was hampered by the great distance and had to travel to get to Vietnam
As it could not pass through China following the sino-soviet split. It had to travel 7,500 miles oversea from ports in Eastern Europe
Moreover Soviet and Eastern European ships heading for Vietnam were often trailed by American airplanes or navy boats
Similarly the sea roof was high-risk
During the American bombings of Haiphong Soviet ships were hit so these sailors were wounded
Most of what the Soviets supplied was given as eight
Whereas the equipment and weapons supplied by the Chinese was given in the form of a loan with deferred long-term payments
It should be noted that prior to the increase in Soviet assistance. The Chinese were greatly involved in assisting North Vietnam
1967 around
170,000 Chinese soldiers were stationed in North Vietnam far more than the total number of Soviet troops ever stationed in the country
However, for a variety of reasons Chinese aid to Vietnam rapidly declined
for one the North Vietnamese embroiled in a struggle for national
Self-determination were reluctant to accept aid from China a country that for centuries claims suzerainty over Vietnam
Which only ended following French colonization?
Moreover by the end of the 1960’s the debilitating effects of Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution on China’s economy
Forced them to scale back their assistance
Soviet advisors were stationed in Vietnam to help counter the escalation of the u.s
Bombing campaign that gained momentum from 1965 onwards with Operation Rolling Thunder an operation Arclight
To assist the North Vietnamese the Soviets supplied and trained North Vietnamese soldiers to use anti-aircraft equipment
Including the highly advanced ineffective sa-2 guideline surface-to-air missile
The majority of anti-aircraft guns and missile sites in North Vietnam were thought to have been initially manned by Soviet advisers
This was because the Soviets didn’t have enough time to train the North Vietnamese before Operation Rolling Thunder
During 1965 in 1966. They down 48 American aircraft
however, while Soviet soldiers were authorized to engage the enemy they were officially designated as military experts so that the government could
Claim that no Soviet troops had served in the Vietnam War
This was even extended to Soviet pilots who were permitted to replace Vietnamese pilot casualties for example colonel vadim scherbakov
reportedly shot down six american aircraft in 1966
While in some instances the Soviets did engage with American forces for the majority of the time they strictly perform supporting roles
For example, they deployed intelligence gathering ships in the South China Sea to relay advanced warnings of American bombing raids
Which proved to be quite effective?
There were also rumors of American soldiers encountering North Vietnamese units on the front line
Accompanied by european-looking men with blue eyes and different uniforms many Americans believed. These were Soviet Special Forces advisers
It’s also thought that the Soviet Spetsnaz GRU the Special Forces controlled by the Soviet military intelligence
attacked a secret American base in Cambodia, which borders Vietnam in 1968
The base had been used by the Americans for reconnaissance missions and rescuing downed pilots
The Soviet secret forces destroyed the Americans new Cobra attack helicopters stationed there which were just starting to enter service at the time
While there’s no concrete proof to prove whether these Russian actions actually
Occurred the Soviets did have KGB officers stationed in North Vietnam who are engaged in processing and disseminating information
Also, they analyzed down American planes or captured weaponry to assess the strengths of the enemy therefore
It was common to see Soviet intelligence agents or technicians examining downed b-52 bombers or f4 phantom fighters
Sometimes these agents would send back intact items to Russia where they could be taken apart and assessed more fully
It is known that this was the fate of several captured American f5 freedom fighter jet aircrafts towards the end of the war
The different approaches by the Americans and Soviets in the Vietnam War can best be understood
By looking at the casualty figures for the conflict
It’s estimated that over the course of the war around
58,000 US military personnel were killed and over 300,000 wounded in
Comparison the total number of Soviet Union military personnel killed was stated to be just 16

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