Russia, N Korea further beef up ties amid arms trade allegations

During high-level officials’ talk, the two agreed to form a united front for international security matters.
By Lee Jeong-Ho for RFA
Seoul, South Korea
Russia, N Korea further beef up ties amid arms trade allegations Russian President Vladimir Putin meets North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui in Moscow, Russia, on Jan. 16, 2024.
Sputnik/Artem Geodakyan/Pool via Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin has met North Korea’s Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui in Moscow, and vowed to “closely collaborate and coordinate their efforts to jointly ensure peace and stability both regionally and globally,” marking the latest efforts between two countries to bolster their bilateral relations.

During their meeting in Moscow on Tuesday, the two agreed to “drive the dynamic development of overall bilateral relations,” the North’s state-run daily Rodong Sinmun said Thursday, labeling their relationship as “strategic” and “traditionally friendly.” 

Choe made a visit to Moscow from Monday through Wednesday, following an invitation from her Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov.

The North Korean minister’s visit to Russia came amid accusations that Pyongyang and Moscow are engaged in arms trading, with Ukraine alleging that North Korean missiles have been used in Russia’s aggression against Ukraine – a claim that both Pyongyang and Moscow have denied. 

According to South Korea’s National Intelligence Service briefings in November, however, Moscow has likely offered Pyongyang technological advice for its satellite launch, as it has received more than 1 million artillery shells from North Korea since early August. 

Meanwhile, Rodong Sinmun reported separately on Thursday that the two nations agreed to form a united front to address international security matters.

Choe and Lavrov on Tuesday “specifically discussed issues related to strengthening strategic and tactical cooperation among foreign policy institutions,” the North Korean daily said, adding that the ministers reached a consensus on “actively enhancing joint actions in addressing various regional and international issues.”

Moscow also officially announced its will to further concrete its relations with Pyongyang on all fronts, including “sensitive” areas, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov Wednesday.

“We have repeatedly said – and I am ready to reiterate it – that North Korea is an important partner for us and we intend to boost relations in all areas, including sensitive ones,” Peskov told reporters in Moscow, as cited by Russian news agency, Tass.

Putin and his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong Un met at the symbol of Russia’s space prowess, the spaceport of Vostochny Cosmodrome, in September where they vowed to boost their comprehensive cooperation, spanning from the economy to military. 

While the two leaders did not publicly comment on any ammunition deal during the summit, Ukraine had alleged that North Korea’s missiles have been used in Russia’s attack against the country.

In September, the Kremlin had also said that it would cooperate with North Korea in “sensitive areas that can’t be disclosed,” raising suspicions that Pyongyang may provide ammunition to Russia.

Edited by Taejun Kang and Elaine Chan


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