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Putin’s visit to North Korea raises alarm in West

Putin, Kim Jong Un forge defence pact
06:01 AM Jun 20, 2024 IST | GK NEWS SERVICE
putin’s visit to north korea raises alarm in west

New Delhi, June 19: Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have signed an agreement, pledging mutual defence support in the event of aggression against either nation.


This pact, described by Kim as an “alliance,” marks a deepening of the strategic partnership between the two countries, raising alarms in the West over the strengthening economic and military ties between Russia and North Korea.


Putin’s visit came just days after the Swiss summit on Peace in Ukraine, where Russia was not invited and concluded without a clear consensus on involving Russia in the peace process.


Thirteen countries including India did not sign the final declaration where 94 countries were present with dozens of countries committing to Ukraine’s territorial integrity. The final document attributed the widespread suffering and destruction of the war to Russia.


In addition, last week’s G7 meeting took place where leaders agreed to use interest from frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine defend itself against the invading Russian forces. Around $325bn in assets were frozen by the G7 countries and the EU after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.


The interest generated by those assets amounts to some $3bn a year. Under the G7 plan, that $3bn will be used to pay off the annual interest on a $50bn loan for Ukraine, taken out on the international markets.


Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to North Korea and signing of an agreement with leader Kim Jong Un is a step to counter the Western world by Russia which now plans to visit Vietnam.


The comprehensive partnership agreement, finalised after talks in Pyongyang, includes a clause that mandates mutual assistance if either country is attacked. “The agreement signed today provides for mutual assistance in the event of aggression against one of the parties,” Putin stated, according to the Russian state news agency Tass. This marks Putin’s first visit to North Korea in 24 years and his second summit with Kim in less than a year.

While specifics of the agreement remain undisclosed, Putin emphasised its defensive nature, affirming North Korea’s right to self-defence. He also hinted at the possibility of expanding military-technical cooperation with North Korea.

Kim hailed the deal as the “strongest ever treaty” between the two nations, elevating their relationship to a higher level of alliance. He predicted that the pact would enhance political, economic, and military cooperation, accelerating the creation of a new multipolar world.

Putin’s visit has been closely monitored by the United States and South Korea, who are concerned that increased military cooperation between these isolated, sanctions-hit states could bolster Russia’s war effort in Ukraine and escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken commented on the visit, stating that it underscores Russia’s desperation to strengthen ties with nations capable of supporting its ongoing war against Ukraine. He noted that North Korea is providing significant munitions to Russia, while Iran is supplying weapons, including drones, used against civilians and infrastructure in Ukraine.

In a previous summit last September in Vladivostok, Kim reportedly agreed to supply missiles and other weapons for Russian use in Ukraine. In exchange, Russia would provide food, energy aid, and assistance with North Korea’s space program.

Putin’s arrival in Pyongyang was marked by a grand welcome, with Kim greeting him at the airport. The two leaders were then driven through the capital’s decorated streets to a welcoming ceremony in Kim Il-sung Square, where they saluted a guard of honour and met key North Korean officials, including Kim’s influential sister, Kim Yo-jong.

The ceremony drew tens of thousands of spectators, with children holding balloons and people dressed in coordinated outfits bearing the colours of the Russian and North Korean flags. Putin expressed gratitude for North Korea’s support in the Ukraine conflict, framing it as part of a broader struggle against U.S. “imperialist hegemonistic policies.”

The leaders exchanged symbolic gifts: Putin presented Kim with a luxury Russian-made Aurus limo and a tea set, while Kim’s gifts to Putin included items related to his image. Putin later chauffeured Kim through Pyongyang in the Aurus limo, further cementing their strengthened ties.

The U.S. and South Korea have accused North Korea of supplying Russia with artillery ammunition in exchange for food and military aid, allegations both countries deny. In the wake of international sanctions and isolation following the invasion of Ukraine, Putin is seeking new allies. After he visits North Korea, Putin is scheduled to visit Vietnam, a long-time ally, to discuss trade. This alliance marks a significant shift in geopolitical dynamics, with potential implications for global security and stability.