What is the message of Putin’s visit to North Korea?

Last Updated on June 24, 2024 11:24 am

After 24 years, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the friendly country North Korea. When he arrived in Pyongyang last Wednesday, he was welcomed by North Korea with a grand ceremony. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un welcomed Putin at the airport. Putin was given a lavish red carpet reception with a guard of honour. The mood of the festival spread throughout Pyongyang.

Putin spends busy time with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at various events. In addition to the private meeting, the two leaders signed several agreements including defense. In the meantime, the Russian president has left North Korea for Vietnam. He will stay there for two days. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un escorted Putin to the airport.

When he last arrived in 2000, Kim Jong Il—the father of current leader Kim Jong Un—was in power. Putin accepted Kim’s invitation to visit North Korea in September last year. After much speculation, the tour was finally completed.

During his visit to North Korea, Putin signed several agreements, including strategic defense. He participated in private meetings and bilateral talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

This time, Putin visited North Korea at a time when both countries are largely isolated from the international arena. Both countries have to deal with various Western sanctions.

One of the agreements signed by Putin with Kim is a military agreement called ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’. The deal will play a key role in rearming Russian forces fighting in Ukraine. Some information about its expected effects has already been published. But the Kremlin said the deal would mean each country would come to each other’s aid in the event of an attack. The agenda for the meeting included the Russia-Ukraine war and military aid to Russia and North Korea.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, Moscow has faced a series of setbacks from the West. Russia’s economy is suffering from the harsh economic sanctions of the West. Importantly, North Korea’s leadership is also facing such a situation and has been under economic sanctions for decades. Because the Western world increasingly sees Pyongyang as a threat to the security of the Asia-Pacific region.

But Putin is looking to Pyongyang for less sophisticated weapons. North Korea was accused of supplying Russia with artillery and ammunition when the two leaders met in Vladivostok in 2023. In such a context, it is believed that the war in Ukraine after this visit may become more dangerous. Putin and Kim denied the arms deal at the time.

Meanwhile, Kim has sided with Russia in the Ukraine war. No one should have difficulty understanding the reason for this. Close ties with Russia have helped North Korea overcome obstacles at various times. Since ongoing talks with then-US President Donald Trump broke down in 2019, North Korea’s leader has been keen to boost the country’s prestige and security. Kim’s deal with Putin will give North Korea that foundation.

Subsequently, the US Biden administration strengthened military ties with Seoul and South Korea and took a tougher stance toward North Korea. At the same time, North Korea needed to ensure fuel supplies for its ailing economy and food supplies for starving people. In such a context, it is only natural that North Korea will seek economic support from Russia.

But this is not the first alliance between Russia and North Korea. This is also not the first time that arms supply has emerged as an important element in their relationship. Kim Jong Un’s grandfather, Kim Il Sung, and Kim Jr. modeled politics on former Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin. The current President of Russia, Putin, also wants to emulate Stalin. As a result, the outlines of an alliance between the two are clear.

Reminiscent of World War II:

In the 1930s, Kim Il Sung was a relatively unknown Korean communist who led a small guerrilla group fighting the Japanese in Manchuria. During World War II, he fled to the Soviet Union and joined the Red Army, rising to the rank of major.

After the Japanese surrendered in August 1945, they ceded occupied Korea to the Allies. After World War II, the Korean territory was divided into two parts. One in the north under the auspices of the Soviet Union, the other in the south under the auspices of the United States.

When North Korea was officially established in 1948, Stalin chose Kim Il Sung to lead the country. He was originally a Korean nationalist and was determined to unify the Korean peninsula under his rule. But he could not invade South Korea without Stalin’s permission and without Soviet weapons.

Kim Il Sung pleaded with Stalin many times for support in occupying South Korea. However, Stalin did not allow this war. Stalin was extremely cautious in the early Cold War, fearing that the United States might become involved if South Korea were attacked.

Suddenly the situation changed rapidly. In October 1949, the Chinese Communist Party defeated Nationalist rivals and the People’s Republic of China was born. In addition, in January 1950, the United States stated for the first time that it would not come to the defense of South Korea if it was attacked.

After this, Stalin became more trusting of North Korean leader Kim. He gave the green signal for war in a letter to Kim Il Sung and supplied him with the desired weapons. Most of these military stockpiles were built up during World War II and are relatively old. Military support included 200 T-34 tanks, which proved highly effective against Nazi forces in Germany.

The Soviet-North Korean alliance was further strengthened by this decision. However, this later led to further crises in the Cold War. North Korea’s invasion of South Korea on June 25, 1950, almost 74 years ago today, did not lead North Korea to a quick victory. Because Washington refused to abandon its ally South Korea and cooperated with 15 countries in the war under the auspices of the United Nations.

As North Korea continues to lose ground, the world moves dangerously close to World War III. Later, the Korean War became a stalemate much like the Ukraine War. The Korean War then continued for two more years. That was suspended by the Armistice Agreement, which still exists today.

Hopefully, the new alliance between Russia and North Korea will not lead to a repeat of events as devastating or risky as the Korean War. But it is important to understand that relations between Russia and North Korea have a long history. Its roots lie in a bloody conflict ever since. Leaders in Moscow and Pyongyang have taken dangerous and wrong moves only when they feel isolated. History bears witness to that.

This time, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to North Korea, meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and military agreement are rekindling memories of the past Korean War. Hope the past will not repeat itself. If it happens, it will pose a new threat to the entire world.

Source: The Conversation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *