Kim Jong Un to meet Putin in Russia soon, here’s the reason why


North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un is set to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss potential arms deals, according to a US national security official.

Recent developments indicate closer relations between the two countries amid their confrontation with the United States.

As isolation against Russia due to the Ukraine conflict tightens, analysts suggest that North Korea’s value in the eyes of Russia is increasing.

For North Korea, its relationship with Russia has not always been as warm as during the heyday of the Soviet Union. However, the country now benefits from Russia’s need for friendly allies.

Read Also: US Strongly Warns North Korea Against Supplying Weapons to Russia

Here’s the history of North Korea-Russia relations and how they have grown closer:

How deep are the political ties between the two countries?

Communist North Korea was formed during the early Cold War, with the support of the Soviet Union. North Korea then fought against South Korea and its ally, the US, as well as the UN, leading to a stalemate in the Korean War from 1950-1953. North Korea received significant support from China and the Soviet Union.

North Korea relied heavily on Soviet aid for decades. The collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s also triggered a deadly famine in North Korea.

Pyongyang’s leaders have often sought to balance their relationship with Beijing and Moscow. Kim initially had relatively good relations with Russia and China, both of which followed the United States in imposing harsh sanctions on North Korea following its nuclear weapons tests.

After North Korea’s latest nuclear test in 2017, Kim took steps to improve relations with Russia.

He first met Putin in 2019 in Vladivostok, in the Russian Far East.

In his message for Russia’s National Day in June, Kim promised to “hold hands” with Putin and enhance strategic cooperation.

Russia and China oppose the latest sanctions imposed on North Korea, thus relieving international pressure on North Korea and, for the first time since imposing sanctions on Pyongyang in 2006, fracturing the unity of the UN Security Council.

The most striking indication of a growing relationship occurred last July when Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Pyongyang, attending a weapons exhibition that included internationally banned North Korean ballistic missiles. He stood alongside Kim and saluted the missiles as they passed by in a military parade.

To what extent has the Ukraine conflict affected their relations?

North Korea supports Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. It is the only country that recognizes Russia’s annexation of some Ukrainian territories. North Korea has expressed support for Russia’s annexation of parts of Ukraine.

The United States accuses North Korea of supplying weapons to Russia, although it is unclear whether there has indeed been weapons shipments from North Korea to Russia. Both Russia and North Korea deny these allegations, but they pledge to deepen defense cooperation.

“Russia’s ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine has created a new geopolitical reality in which the Kremlin and North Korea may become closer, perhaps even to the point of a revival of the quasi-alliance relationship that existed during the Cold War,” said Artyom Lukin, a professor at Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok, in his report for 38 North.

It should be noted that Pyongyang has begun using the new phrase “tactical and strategic collaboration” to describe its relationship with Russia.

Shoigu told Russian media on Monday that Moscow is discussing joint military exercises with North Korea.

“Why not, they are our neighbors. There is an ancient Russian proverb: You do not choose your neighbors, and it is better to live in peace and harmony with your neighbors,” Shoigu said, as quoted by Interfax news agency.

What about the economic relationship between the two countries?

Last year, Russia and North Korea resumed train travel for the first time since it was halted during the COVID pandemic. The train carried an extraordinary cargo: 30 purebred horses.

Shortly after that, Russia resumed oil exports to North Korea, which according to UN data, marked the first Russian oil delivery to North Korea since 2020.

Most of North Korea’s trade is conducted through China, but Russia has the potential to become a significant partner, especially in the oil sector, according to experts. Moscow denies violating UN sanctions, but Russian tanker ships are suspected of helping circumvent restrictions on oil exports to North Korea. Sanctions monitors have reported that North Korean laborers remain in Russia despite a UN ban.

The Russian government has openly discussed political cooperation to employ 20,000 to 50,000 North Korean workers, even though a UN Security Council resolution prohibits such arrangements.

Russian officials and leaders in the occupied Ukrainian territories have also discussed the possibility of requesting North Korean laborers to assist in the reconstruction of war-torn areas.

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