Russian Defense Minister Promises to Bolster Military Ties With North Korea

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has promised to tighten military ties with North Korea on a visit to its capital city of Pyongyang to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Korean war armistice. This is part of a broader effort by the two countries to bolster relations after the launch of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Shoigu’s recent visit to North Korea represents the first high-level foreign delegation that North Korea has received since strongman Kim Jong Un closed off his country’s borders in response to the Wuhan virus pandemic. 

After holding a meeting with North Korean Defense Minister Kang Sun Nam on July 26, 2023, Shoigu observed that the two countries share a “common border and rich history of co-operation.” 

“I am convinced that today’s talks will help strengthen co-operation between our defence agencies,” he declared in a statement published by Russia’s Defense Ministry. Shoigu toured a weapons exhibition with Kim on July 26. At the exhibition, Shoigu was shown North Korea’s latest line of reconnaissance drones in addition to its largest nuclear missiles. These consisted of a Hwasong-18 solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile, which the North Korean regime fired into waters between the Korean peninsula and Japan in June.  

According to the Rodong Sinmun state newspaper, Shoigu said to Kim at a banquet that the North Korean military had “united” behind the North Korean leader to become “the most powerful army in the world by constantly strengthening its might”. Shoigu also heaped praise on North Korea’s military for “taking an active part in the work for the economic construction and the improvement of the people’s living.” 

Kim has been enthusiastic in his efforts to get closer to Russian president Vladimir Putin ever since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with the leaders providing each other material aid and political support. North Korea quickly manifested its support for the invasion, blaming the war on US “hegemonic policy” and “high-handedness.”  It was one of only four nations to stand against a UN general assembly resolution criticizing Russia’s military action. Representatives in the breakaway Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics in eastern Ukraine have also discussed proposals with North Korean officials for the North Korean government to send workers to help rebuild war-torn cities. In June, the US government confirmed that North Korea had already finalized a delivery of infantry rockets and missiles to the Russian private military company Wagner Group. North Korean defense minister Kang Sun Nam said earlier this week that the Russian and North Korean armies were in the “same trench” in their “anti-imperialist struggle.” 

North Korean-Russian relations will likely only tighten as the US’s foreign policy grows more desperate and erratic. Given how the US regime targets all authoritarian regimes abroad, North Korea and Russia will become kindred spirits due to how they share a common foe in the US.

Such balancing coalitions against the US will become the norm as long as the US maintains its fanatic universalist foreign policy.

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