North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un concluded his six-day state visit to Russia on Sunday. While Kim did not ink an official agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the two leaders discussed several domains where the two nations planned to increase cooperation. The growing ties between Moscow and Pyongyang come as President Joe Biden has pledged to isolate Russia from the rest of the world.
Russian Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Alexander Kozlov wrote on Telegram, “The official visit of Comrade Kim Jong Un [to Russia] is over.” He added, “We discussed issues of cooperation between the regions. Those are mainly issues related to the development of agriculture, the development of transport infrastructure, transport service, of course, cultural exchange, education, medical issues.”
Kim’s time in Russia was his longest trip to a foreign country since ascending to supreme leader in 2011. Putin met with Kim shortly after he arrived in eastern Russia. The North Korean leader visited a Russian spaceport. Putin confirmed that the leaders discussed sharing technology in that domain.
Russian military officials additionally hosted Kim at a base where the North Korean supreme leader sat in an advanced warplane. Top Russian and North Korean defense officials called for the two nations to strengthen military ties. “North Korean Defense Minister Kang Sun Nam said that the Korean People’s Army is ready to strengthen combat brotherhood with the Russian Armed Forces and join forces to defend peace and stability in the region and on the planet,” TASS – Russian state media – reported.
Pyongyang and Moscow have been tight-lipped on many of the details of what was discussed between North Korean and Russian officials. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov explained, “As neighbors, our countries implement cooperation in sensitive areas that should not become the subject of public disclosure and announcement. But this is quite natural for neighboring states.”
Before the summit, the White House speculated that North Korea would agree to aid the Russian war in Ukraine by providing artillery rounds to Moscow. State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller slammed Pyongyang and threatened additional sanctions on North Korea. However, as North Korea is already one of the most isolated nations in the world, it is unclear how much further Washington can expand the economic war against Pyongyang.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Mark Milley, downplayed the impact of any military cooperation between Russia and North Korea. When asked about potential North Korean weapons transfers to Russia on Saturday, he said, “Would it have a huge difference? I’m skeptical of that. I doubt that it would be decisive.”
After the Putin-Kim meeting, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol blasted the two leaders in a letter to the UN. “Military cooperation between North Korea and Russia is illegal and unjust as it contravenes U.N. Security Council resolutions and various other international sanctions,” he wrote. “The international community will unite more tightly in response to such a move.”
Yoon’s attacks on Kim and Putin come as military ties between the US, South Korea, and Japan continue to grow. At a recent summit President Joe Biden hosted at Camp David, the three nations agreed to increase trilateral military exercises.
Kim has accused Washington of attempting to form a new NATO-style alliance in the Pacific. The increased military ties with Japan have additionally irked Russia and China as both nations have territorial disputes with Tokyo.
In response, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu proposed trilateral military drills between Pyongyang, Moscow, and Beijing during a July meeting with Kim. The Kremlin is expected to send a delegation to Pyongyang in November to continue to develop the relationship between the two nations.