Commentary: Worry more about Putin’s visit to North Korea than Kim’s trash balloons

by Admin
Commentary: Worry more about Putin’s visit to North Korea than Kim’s trash balloons


But for a better view of why North Korea shouldn’t be ignored, look at a larger package that will be crossing over the North Korean border.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is visiting the country Tuesday (Jun 18) and Wednesday, his first such sojourn in 24 years. Following Kim Jong Un’s trip to Russia last September, it comes as ties between the two strongmen are growing increasingly cordial. 

Both countries have much to gain and little to lose from better relations and are already so heavily sanctioned that the US and its allies have little leverage to punish them further. The two nations have an “unbreakable relationship of comrades-in-arms and a long-standing strategic relationship and are steadily developing into the higher-level state relations”, Kim told Putin in a missive last week, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

The countries plan to sign an agreement on strategic partnership, including on security and economic cooperation, Kremlin foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov said, according to state-run Tass news agency.

Officials in Seoul have fretted about such a pact. Russia needs allies, and Kim has shown his willingness to help, as demonstrated by the North Korean weaponry found on Ukrainian battlefields. The US and South Korea both say Kim has already sent millions of artillery shells to Russia, needed to continue its assault on Ukraine. (North Korea denies this.) 

For its part, North Korea can use Russia’s presence on the United Nations Security Council to further its goals of weakening sanctions, helping it to advance its arsenal of nuclear weapons and missiles. That’s already in motion: In March, Russia used its security council veto to reject a renewal of the UN panel of experts that monitors enforcement of sanctions on Pyongyang. Kim also needs Russian technology to help with its space programme, following the failure of a spy satellite launch last month, while Russian oil will also find a home in an energy-starved country. 

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