Significance and impact of recently signed defense pact between Russia and North Korea

Kim Jong Un, Vladimir Putin

During his just-concluded two-days official trip to Pyongyang, Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed a defense pledge which is seen as one of Moscow’s most significant moves in Asia for years that the North Korean leader saw as a pact of an “alliance”.

Kim Jong Un said the pact would expand cooperation in politics, economy and defense, calling it “strictly peace-loving and defensive” in nature.

“Our two countries’ relations have been elevated to the new higher level of an alliance”, the North Korean leader said.

At the start of their summit, Kim Jong Un expressed “unconditional support” for “all of Russia’s policies”, including “a full support and firm alliance” for Putin’s war with Ukraine.

The key provisions of the open-ended treaty are:

Immediate mutual assistance in case of aggression against any of the countries;

In case of a threat of aggression, the countries agree on measures to coordinate their positions, cooperate to remove the;

Moscow and Pyongyang commit themselves not to enter into any agreements with third countries that may threaten their sovereignty and security;

Russia and North Korea will make efforts to boost bilateral trade and create favorable conditions for economic cooperation;

Moscow and Pyongyang agree to develop cooperation in the area of space exploration, peaceful use of nuclear energy, AI, and IT;

The countries will invigorate cooperation in the area of the mass media to counter disinformation and information provocations;

Russia and North Korea will create a system of measures to strengthen defense potential to prevent war and ensure peace.

Meanwhile, according to Russian media, Putin said Moscow was fighting the hegemonic, imperialist policy of the United States and its allies.

According to media reports, on his first visit to Pyongyang since July 2000, Putin explicitly linked Russia’s deepening of ties with North Korea to the West’s growing support for Ukraine and said Moscow could develop military and technical cooperation with Pyongyang.

British newspaper The Guardian in its report says, the signed pact includes a clause requiring the countries to come to each other’s aid if either is attacked, a move that has raised western concerns about potential Russian aid for Pyongyang’s missile or nuclear programs.

Earlier, NBC News reported that US intelligence officials believe President Putin is providing North Korea with nuclear submarine and ballistic missile technology in exchange for arms for his war in Ukraine. Citing six senior US officials, the US news network said the Biden administration was concerned Russia might help North Korea complete the final steps needed to field its first submarine capable of launching a nuclear-armed missile.

Earlier, NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said, “We are of course also concerned about the potential support that Russia provides to North Korea when it comes to supporting their missile and nuclear programs”.

Bonnie Jenkins, undersecretary of state said she believes North Korea is keen to acquire fighter aircraft, surface-to-air missiles, armored vehicles, ballistic missile production equipment or materials, and other advanced technologies from Russia.

Prior to arriving in Pyongyang, President Putin in an article published in Rodong Sinmun wrote:

The United States is going out of its way to impose on the world what it calls the “rules-based order”, which is essentially nothing more than a global neo-colonial dictatorship relying on double standards. Nations that disagree with such an approach and pursue an independent policy face increasing external pressure. The US leadership views such a natural and legitimate aspiration for self-reliance and independence as a threat to its global dominance.

The United States and its satellites openly declare that their objective is to inflict a “strategic defeat” on Russia. They are doing everything they can to protract and further exacerbate the conflict in Ukraine, which they have themselves provoked by supporting and organizing the 2014-armed coup in Kiev and the subsequent war in Donbass. What is more, over the years they have repeatedly rejected all our attempts to resolve the situation peacefully. Russia has always been and will remain open to equal dialogue on all issues, including the most difficult ones. I reiterated this at my recent meeting with Russian diplomats in Moscow.

Our adversaries, meanwhile, continue to supply the neo‑Nazi Kiev regime with money, weapons and intelligence information, allow – and, effectively, encourage – the use of modern Western weapons and equipment to deliver strikes on the Russian territory, aiming at obviously civilian targets in most cases. They are threatening to send their troops to Ukraine. Furthermore, they are trying to wear out Russia’s economy with more new sanctions and fuel socio-political tension inside the country.

No matter how hard they tried, all their attempts to contain or isolate Russia have failed. We continue to steadily build up our economic capability, develop our industry, technologies, infrastructure, science, education and culture.

We are pleased to note that our Korean friends – despite the years-long economic pressure, provocations, blackmailing and military threats on the part of the United States – are still effectively defending their interests…

Commenting on the defense pact, defense analyst M A Hossain said, “According to the text, Article 4 states that Putin-Kim defense pact permits all available means to assist each other if either nation is attacked. As earlier the US and its NATO allies have accused Pyongyang of supporting Moscow against Kiev, this defense pact bears tremendous geopolitical impact and it may even be seen as Russia’s preparation for another world war”.

Meanwhile, President Putin directly flew to Hanoi from Pyongyang – another country which bears the severe pains of American atrocities during the Vietnam war. The visit has drawn criticism from the US, among Vietnam’s top trade partners, which has warned it risks normalizing Russia’s “blatant violations of international law”.

However Russian news agency TASS in a report said, Russia and Vietnam have decided not to conclude any agreements with third countries that may damage independence and sovereignty.

Vietnamese President To Lam said, “We will not enter any unions or treaties with third countries hurting independence, sovereignty or territorial ties with each other. We will not even act against third parties”, adding that his country will always “contribute to peace and relations in the region and worldwide”.

He further said, “We always remember with gratitude the selfless help and support that the Russian people extended to Vietnam in our struggle for independence”.

In an opinion piece to coincide with his visit, published in Vietnam’s Communist party newspaper Nhân Dân, Putin listed progress on payments, energy and trade between the countries. He also applauded Vietnam for supporting “a pragmatic way to solve the crisis” in Ukraine.

It may be mentioned here that Vietnam, a manufacturing powerhouse, has grown closer to the US and its allies, and last year Communist party leader, Nguyen Phu Trong, hosted US president Joe Biden and upgraded ties with Washington, as well as with Australia and Japan.

In my opinion, although Moscow was expecting Hanoi to be on-board in its favor once there is direct war between Russia and the United States as well as Washington’s NATO allies, Vietnam shall refrain from doing so, as Hanoi’s joining war against the West shall have tremendous effect on its economy. Most importantly, Vietnam today is a lumpen communism while it is the only one-party ruled nation, where Washington never speaks about democracy or human rights. Under any circumstances, although Hanoi may express gratitude to Moscow for its cooperation during the Vietnam war, current leadership in Hanoi shall not join Moscow’s bloc in any war against Washington and other NATO nations. In this case, for Russia, if its mainland is hit by Kiev using advanced American weapons, the only ally would be North Korea – and maybe China. Even Russia’s long-time ally India shall maintain a neutral role and shall refrain from joining war either in favor or against Russia.

For Russian President Vladimir Putin, the biggest failure is the Kremlin’s inability in even having a balance in the soft-war or media war, where Ukraine is on the winning side due to cooperation from the Western media. For Putin, to counter Western propaganda and media assaults, the only options are depending on Russia’s own media outlets such as RT, Sputnik and TASS. Western nations have succeeded in significantly suffocating RT and Sputnik by imposing bans, while TASS, RT and Sputnik are deindexed from Google News and other major content aggregators. At the same time, these Russian media outlets are banned on video-sharing platform YouTube, while other social media platforms, except ‘X’ are maintaining shadow-ban on these Russian media outlets.

Meanwhile, key policymakers in the Kremlin as well as Russian missions abroad are showing reluctance or disinterest in encouraging non-Russian foreign media in their ongoing support for Moscow. Though such tendencies may not be yet seen as sabotage or conspiracy against President Vladimir Putin, undoubtedly it is greatly hampering Russia’s interest and the last hope of making a balance in the West’s ongoing massive media assaults targeting President Putin in particular and Russia as a whole.

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