Growing Military Cooperation between Putin and Kim Jong Un Raises Concerns

In recent years, a growing alliance between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has raised concerns among the international community. Both leaders, facing heavy international sanctions and criticizing the United States, see potential benefits in a closer relationship. One of the key factors driving this alliance is North Korea’s defense industry, which possesses large-scale production capabilities. As Russia continues its war in Ukraine, it is speculated that Pyongyang could serve as a valuable source of munitions for Moscow.

The allegations of arms talks between Russia and North Korea have raised alarm bells for the United States. Washington claims that these talks have been actively advancing, with Russia seeking supplies of ammunition and artillery shells. While Russian officials have not confirmed these allegations, there have been subtle hints that both countries intend to boost military cooperation. Last year, Sergei Shoigu became the first Russian defense minister to visit North Korea since the Soviet Union’s breakup. During his visit, he attended events marking the 70th anniversary of the Korean armistice, and Kim Jong Un personally showed him around a weapons exhibition. Shoigu has also suggested that joint military exercises are being considered.

Former Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev expressed concern over Russia’s intentions in seeking military supplies from North Korea, describing it as “the utmost humiliation of the propaganda of Russian ‘great power’.” Kozyrev believes that a true great power would not rely on alliance or military supplies from one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world. However, it is possible that Putin’s intent to overturn the global order, as demonstrated by the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, may be driving this military cooperation with North Korea. A potential arms deal between Moscow and Pyongyang would mark a significant shift in Russia’s stance on UN Security Council sanctions against North Korea.

While the international community has expressed concern over this growing alliance, it is important to note that Russia’s war machine is unlikely to grind to a halt without North Korea’s help. Former Foreign Minister Kozyrev believes that Putin is not desperate and has the ability to sustain the war in Ukraine for a long time. He continues to adapt, finding ways to circumvent sanctions and cooperate with countries like China, North Korea, and regimes in Africa. This may not be a sustainable alternative for the future, but it could serve Russia’s interests in the present and the years to come.

Apart from military cooperation, North Korea is also likely seeking humanitarian aid from Russia to alleviate its food shortages. There is speculation that Pyongyang has been requesting advanced Russian technology for satellites and military use, including nuclear-powered submarines. With more than a year and a half into a war that has not gone as planned for Russia, replenishing its munitions stocks through a potential deal with North Korea may be seen as a strategic move.

The growing military cooperation between Putin and Kim Jong Un raises concerns for the international community. It highlights the shifting dynamics in global politics and alliances. While both leaders have their own interests at stake, it is crucial for the international community to closely monitor these developments and their potential implications on regional and global security.