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Putin To Visit North Korea For First Time In 24 Years. Something Big Going To Happen Soon.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will embark on a historic visit to North Korea on Tuesday and Wednesday, marking his first trip to the country in 24 years. This visit highlights the growing partnership between Moscow and the nuclear-armed state, which has intensified since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un extended the invitation to Putin during his visit to Russia’s Far East last September. Putin’s last visit to Pyongyang was in July 2000. The White House has expressed deep concern over the strengthening ties between Russia and North Korea. The U.S. State Department has indicated that it is “quite certain” that Putin will seek arms to bolster his military campaign in Ukraine.

Yuri Ushakov, Putin’s foreign policy adviser, mentioned that Russia and North Korea might sign a partnership agreement during the visit, encompassing security issues. He clarified that the agreement would not be targeted against any other country but would outline future cooperation prospects, considering recent developments in international politics, economics, and security.

The Russian delegation will include high-ranking officials such as Defence Minister Andrei Belousov, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, who is responsible for energy affairs. Following his visit to North Korea, Putin will travel to Vietnam on June 19-20, as confirmed by the Kremlin. Although these visits were anticipated, the specific dates had not been previously disclosed.

Russia has been keen to publicize the revival of its relationship with North Korea since the onset of the war in Ukraine, causing significant alarm among the United States and its allies in Europe and Asia. Washington has accused North Korea of supplying weapons to Russia for use in Ukraine, a claim that both Pyongyang and Moscow have consistently denied. U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller reiterated on Monday that North Korea had provided “dozens of ballistic missiles and over 11,000 containers of munitions to Russia” for the conflict in Ukraine. He noted that Putin had appeared increasingly desperate in recent months, turning to Iran and North Korea to replenish lost equipment.

Miller further commented on Putin’s likely intentions during the visit, stating, “So I’m quite certain that that is what he’s up to.” U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell expressed concerns about what Russia might offer North Korea in return, questioning whether it would be hard currency, energy resources, or capabilities to advance North Korea’s nuclear or missile programs. “We don’t know. But we’re concerned by that and watching carefully,” Campbell said.

For Putin, who perceives Russia as engaged in an existential struggle with the West over Ukraine, courting Kim Jong Un serves as a strategic move to challenge Washington and its Asian allies. United Nations monitors have confirmed that at least one ballistic missile fired by Russia in Ukraine in January was manufactured in North Korea. Ukrainian officials have reported that approximately 50 such missiles have been delivered to Russia by North Korea.

Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Seoul’s Ewha University, commented on the significance of the visit for Kim Jong Un: “The list of countries willing to welcome Putin is shorter than ever, but for Kim Jong Un, this visit is a victory. Not only does the summit upgrade North Korea’s status among countries standing against the U.S.-led international order, it also helps bolster Kim’s domestic legitimacy.”

South Korea’s vice foreign minister, Kim Hong-kyun, discussed Putin’s upcoming visit to Pyongyang in an emergency phone call with Kurt Campbell on Friday, according to Seoul’s foreign ministry. The ministry expressed concern that the visit would lead to increased military cooperation between Pyongyang and Moscow, which would violate U.N. resolutions.

Russia has maintained that it will develop its relations with North Korea as it sees fit and will not be dictated to by any other country, especially the United States. The U.N. Security Council, where Russia holds veto power, imposed sanctions on North Korea following its first nuclear test in 2006. Experts believe that Pyongyang has continued to develop nuclear weapons and produce nuclear fissile materials.

In March of this year, Russia vetoed the annual renewal of a panel of experts responsible for monitoring the enforcement of U.N. sanctions. South Korea’s U.N. ambassador likened this move to “destroying a CCTV to avoid being caught red-handed” in violation of the sanctions. Russia has argued that world powers need a new approach to North Korea, accusing the United States and its allies of attempting to “strangle” the isolated state.

Jenny Town, an expert with the 38 North program at Washington’s Stimson Center think tank, suggested that Russia’s outreach to Pyongyang is part of its broader effort to build an alternative to the U.S.-led world order. “There is reason to believe that Russia sees value in North Korea as a military partner in that war against the West, which does incentivize them to do more beyond just the arms deals for supplementing Russia’s war-fighting efforts in Ukraine,” she said.

For North Korea, its relationship with Russia offers support at the U.N. and provides “immediate and tangible results” in economic, military, and agricultural cooperation and trade, which have been lacking since the 1990s, Town added. Kim Jong Un traveled to Russia by train in 2019 and again last year, where he and Putin toasted each other with Russian wine, symbolizing the renewed camaraderie between their nations.

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