Putin thanks North Korea for supporting Russia in Ukraine war

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Putin, Vladimir Putin, North Korea, DPRK

Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to visit North Korea for the first time in 24 years, highlighting the deepening relationship between the two nations amid the ongoing geopolitical turmoil. Scheduled to arrive on June 18, 2024, Putin’s visit comes at a critical juncture as Russia faces international isolation due to its war in Ukraine and North Korea grapples with longstanding sanctions over its nuclear ambitions. This visit underscores a strategic partnership forged in defiance of Western pressure and sanctions.

In a letter published by North Korean state media, Putin expressed his gratitude for North Korea’s steadfast support for Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine. He praised the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) for resisting US pressure and threats, a sentiment that reflects the mutual defiance both nations share against the West. “We highly appreciate that the DPRK is firmly supporting the special military operations of Russia being conducted in Ukraine,” Putin wrote, acknowledging North Korea’s unwavering support.

The visit aims to bolster the long-standing relationship between Russia and North Korea, which has its roots in the post-World War II era. Putin highlighted the history of good relations and partnerships based on equality, mutual respect, and trust. The Russian president emphasized that the two nations are “now actively developing the many-sided partnership,” a statement that hints at future collaborations in various sectors including trade, security, and technology.

Putin’s agenda includes developing trade and payment systems that circumvent Western control. This initiative is particularly significant as both nations are under heavy sanctions—Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and North Korea for its nuclear weapons program. In his letter, Putin described these sanctions as “unilateral and illegal restrictive measures” and vowed to work with North Korea to oppose them.

Russian foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov indicated that the visit might culminate in the signing of a partnership agreement encompassing security issues. This comprehensive strategic partnership treaty is expected to outline future cooperation between Moscow and Pyongyang, addressing mutual security concerns and economic collaborations. Such an agreement would signal a formalization of the already deepening ties between the two countries.

Putin’s delegation includes key figures from the Russian government, such as Defence Minister Andrei Belousov, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak. The presence of these high-ranking officials underscores the importance Russia places on this visit and the potential for significant agreements to be reached.

The strengthening alliance between Russia and North Korea can be seen as a reaction to their shared international isolation. Both nations have been pushed to the periphery of the global order dominated by Western powers. By deepening their bilateral ties, Russia and North Korea aim to create a united front against sanctions and economic pressures.

The United States and its allies have repeatedly accused North Korea of supplying Russia with weapons, including ballistic missiles, to support its war efforts in Ukraine. Both Moscow and Pyongyang have denied these allegations, although the strategic needs of both nations suggest a plausible basis for such cooperation. The U.S. has expressed concern over Putin’s visit, with National Security Council spokesman John Kirby warning about the security implications for both Ukraine and the Korean Peninsula.

The historical alliance between Russia and North Korea dates back to the latter’s founding after World War II. However, the relationship has gained new momentum following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Isolated from much of the international community, Putin has turned to Pyongyang as a strategic ally.

Last September, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made a rare overseas trip to meet Putin at a Russian spaceport. This meeting sparked allegations from Seoul that Pyongyang was supplying arms to Moscow in exchange for satellite technology. These claims have been consistently denied by both countries.

Experts believe the core of the renewed Russia-North Korea partnership lies in defense cooperation. With both nations facing significant economic challenges, their alliance is expected to focus on military technology and support. North Korea is likely seeking advanced military technology to enhance its nuclear, missile, and satellite programs. In return, Russia could benefit from a steady supply of artillery and short-range missiles to bolster its operations in Ukraine.

Bruce Bennett, a senior defense analyst at RAND Corporation, suggests that North Korea could promise “to provide Russia with continuing supplies of artillery, guided rockets for multiple rocket launchers, and short-range missiles.” In exchange, North Korea would seek “a substantial flow of Russian oil and food products along with hard currency payments.”

The implications of this visit are profound, as it signals a shift in the balance of power in East Asia and beyond. The closer ties between Moscow and Pyongyang could complicate the security dynamics on the Korean Peninsula, where tensions are already high due to North Korea’s weapons tests and U.S.-South Korea military drills. The alliance also poses a challenge to the international sanctions regime, potentially undermining efforts to curb both countries’ contentious activities.

Putin’s visit to Pyongyang marks a pivotal moment in the relationship between Russia and North Korea. As both nations seek to counter Western influence and sanctions, their partnership is poised to grow stronger, with significant implications for regional and global security. The world will be watching closely as this rare diplomatic engagement unfolds, potentially reshaping alliances and power structures in a rapidly changing geopolitical landscape.

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