North Korea and Russia plan closer cooperation

To mark the anniversary of the end of the Korean War, Russia's Defense Minister Shoigu traveled to North Korea.

He emphasized the partnership between the two countries, which now want to strengthen their defense exchanges.

North Korea and Russia want to work more closely together on defense issues. That was what he and his North Korean counterpart had agreed in Pyongyang, said Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. “I am convinced that today’s talks will help strengthen cooperation between our defense departments.”

Shoigu is in North Korea’s capital to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War. North Korea is celebrating “Victory Day” today with a military parade, among other things, and has invited guests not only from Russia but also from China. The leadership in Beijing sent, among others, Li Hongzhong to Pyongyang, who is a member of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party.

Shoigu lays flowers

According to state media, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has already visited a cemetery commemorating Chinese troops who fought in the Korean War – including the grave of Mao Zedong’s eldest son Mao Anying, where Kim laid flowers.

For his part, Shoigu laid flowers at monuments to former North Korean leaders after arriving in Pyongyang, a video released by the Russian Defense Ministry showed. For Russia, North Korea is “an important partner with whom we share a national border and rich (…) cooperation,” Shoigu said, according to a ministry statement. There is a few kilometers long border between the two countries.

North Korea wants deeper ties

For North Korea, which is already largely isolated, it is the first time foreign delegations have visited the country since the end of the corona pandemic. The government of ruler Kim is trying to deepen its relations with China and Russia and to find common ground with its neighbors for rivalry with the West and especially the USA.

The United States has accused North Korea of supplying arms to Russia in its war against Ukraine. Among other things, in November 2022 a delivery of infantry rockets and aircraft went to the Russian Wagner mercenaries who fought alongside the regular army. North Korea and Russia have denied the allegation.

Russia and China prevent new penalties

China, on the other hand, is by far the most important trading partner of its largely isolated neighboring country. Chinese exports to North Korea in June were eight times higher than a year earlier. The background to North Korea’s isolation are the international sanctions over its nuclear and missile programs, for which both Russia and China had voted in the UN Security Council.

However, recent attempts by the USA and some European countries to enact new punitive measures against North Korea were prevented by the two countries with their veto. Instead, Russia and China pushed for the relaxation of existing sanctions on humanitarian grounds. They also tried to persuade North Korea to resume denuclearization talks that broke down in 2019.

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