Russia and North Korea Make Strategic Pact

( – Russian President Vladimir Putin has agreed a new defense deal with North Korea’s eccentric dictator. Putin and Kim Jong-un have agreed on a mutual defense pact that calls on either nation to help the other if it’s attacked. The Russian strongman could already be using it to put pressure on US allies in the Pacific.

Putin, Kim Strike Defense Deal

On June 19, Putin, who spent the week on a tour of Asian nations including Vietnam, met Kim Jong-un in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang. After the meeting, Putin and Kim announced a new mutual defense pact between their nations. In the announcement, Putin affirmed North Korea’s right to defend itself, and hinted at future “military-technical cooperation.”

After the Korean War ended in 1953, communist-controlled North Korea stayed closely linked to the Soviet Union. While it wasn’t a Soviet puppet state, thanks to unease in Moscow about the cult of personality developed by the ruling Kim family, the USSR armed the country and provided it with technology to build its own weapons and other industries. The links between Moscow and Pyongyang weakened after the USSR broke up, and China became North Korea’s main backer, but since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022 Putin and Kim have been rebuilding the relationship. North Korea is supplying Russia’s invasion forces with low-tech, but cheap and numerous, weapons to replenish Putin’s depleted arsenals.

Now Putin is threatening to arm North Korea with advanced Russian weapons in an apparent attempt to pressure South Korea. The new Russia-North Korea agreement has worried the democratic South, which hosts almost 30,000 US troops. The government in Seoul is now considering arming Ukraine in an attempt to soak up Russian military strength that could be used to aid the North. South Korea has a large defense industry, producing advanced modern weapons comparable to the latest Western ones. In response, Putin has warned the country that supplying weapons to Ukraine would be a “very big mistake.”

Tension is already rising between the two Korean nations. On June 20, South Korean troops fired warning shots after communist soldiers violated the border. The promise of Russian backing could make Kim, who is already prone to making provocative gestures — North Korea recently started launching balloons loaded with garbage and animal feces over the south — even more reckless. While Putin is advertising the pact as a defense treaty, the reality is it makes war more likely.

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