Vladimir Putin invited Kim Jong Un to Russia in hopes of striking a deal with the leader of North Korea to replenish its depleting weapons arsenal. This meeting has stirred fear in the West as many are concerned that it may lead to Russia giving North Korea the nuclear weapon technology it’s been lacking for the last decade due to United Nations (UN) sanctions, according to CNN.
Russia and North Korea have been historic partners, with their alliance dating back to the Korean War when the Soviet Union backed the Communist North against the United States-sponsored South, reports The Guardian. Throughout the Cold War, North Korea relied heavily on the Soviet Union for funding and support. The alliances dwindled in the years since the fall of the Soviet Union, with Russia drifting away from the ostracized North Korea in hopes of affiliating more with the West, reports Gaudian.
According to The Guardian, the relationship between the two countries has been rocky in recent years as Russia has been supporting UN sanctions against North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.. The relationship has only started to improve during the war in Ukraine. According to The Associated Press, as the war trudges on, Russia has lost support from Western states it was once trying to appease and has turned back to its old ally in Pyongyang..
When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 22, 2022, Putin foresaw the war only lasting a week. A year and a half later, it seems that Russia vastly underestimated Ukraine’s resolve and is now in need of more ammo, reports The Associated Press. This necessity will be hard to fulfill because Russia has become a pariah state by starting the largest land conflict in Europe since the collapse of Yugoslavia and the proceeding Bosnian war. Now, only a handful of countries are willing to cooperate with Russia; namely North Korea. North Korea has a large but dated arsenal of weapons that can help prolong the war in Ukraine, but they are not likely to give Russia this ammunition for free, reports by the Associated Press. North Korea would most likely ask Russia to exchange the ammunition with nuclear weapon technology.
The West has shown concern about what this alliance could lead to. Even with UN sanctions North Korea has been able to develop their ballistic missile program at unprecedented rates, Including intercontinental ballistic missiles that, in theory, could reach U.S. mainland, according to CNN. Russia could trade their advanced nuclear weapon technology for more ammunition, and the west worries that this new acquisition of advanced technology could then be used against U.S. and its allies, continues CNN.
An alliance with Russia will also make North Korea appear less isolated, according to CNN. The West is also concerned about how this exchange in dangerous weapons could extend the war in Ukraine. Earlier in the war, Russia obtained drones from Iran, and they have played a crucial role in destroying Ukrainian infrastructure says The Associated Press. Some analysts like Joseph Dempsey believe that the weapons acquired by Russia will not heavily affect the outcome of the war. The newly obtained weapons would reload Russia’s depleted arsenal and extend the war, but they would not turn the tide of the war, reports CNN.
CNN reports that on September 17 Kim Jong Un left the Russian eastern city of Vladivostok with new weapons in hand. It has been reported that Russia gave Kim a new set of drones and a bulletproof vest as a friendly send-off gift. According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, no arms negotiations have been announced, reports CNN. However, there is still much concern about what this alliance could lead to in the future.
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