Logistic Routes and the Détente

Reading an interesting article on the alignment of USSE with Siad Barré’s regime in Somalia from 1969 onwards and it has some interesting tidbits having to do with military logistics and transport.  The article by Gary Payton is standard Cold War era analysis, but this bit was of interest to me:

Throughout the I960s, three major logistic routes existed for trans- porting weaponry from the industrial centres in the western U.S.S.R. to South-East Asia. By the first route, arms loaded in ports of the Black Sea transited the Suez Canal, travelled through the Strait of Bab el Mandeb, across the Indian Ocean, and finally arrived at the ports of Sihanoukville, Cambodia, or Haiphong. With the closure of the Suez Canal in June 1967, merchant vessels were forced to steam around the African continent before entering the waters of the Indian Ocean. On the second route, weapons departed from the Siberian port complex of Vladivostok and Nakhodka and were transported south through the China Sea to the awaiting Communist armies. Finally, Vietnam-bound war material travelled along the Trans-Siberian Railway and was routed across China’s Xinjang (Sinkiang) Province for entry into the North Vietnamese rail and road system. Thus, any actions taken by the United States or China to impede the arms flow, directly challenged the Soviet strategy of entrapping the U.S. in Vietnam and forcing China to take a more conciliatory approach towards Sino-Soviet relations. (p. 496).

What I find interesting about this is that Nixon’s visit to China and the Détente could have been as much about cutting off supply lines to Vietnam as it was about China’s role itself in Vietnam.