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Putin’s North Korea Visit Could Reshape Regional Security

Daniel Kim Views  

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On the 18th, Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit North Korea for the first time in 24 years, and South Korea and China will hold diplomatic and security talks in Seoul for the first time in nine years. The meeting between North Korea and Russia amidst these circumstances is drawing attention to its potential diplomatic impacts, especially in the recent developments such as North Korea’s successive provocations, strengthened ties between North Korea and Russia, South Korea-Japan-China summit, and enhanced trilateral cooperation among the United States, South Korea, and Japan against North Korea.

According to the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the 17th, Putin will visit North Korea on the 18th and 19th to bolster military cooperation. As both countries are already engaged in arms trade and technology transfer, concerns have been raised about the potential extent of their military cooperation.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol has publicly issued a warning. Jang Ho Jin, the head of the National Security Office, and Cho Tae Yul, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, revealed the fact of a warning communication to Russia, and the presidential office expressed concerns about the potential revival of the automatic military intervention clause of the mutual aid alliance that North Korea had with the former Soviet Union.

In particular, it is expected that the North Korea-Russia summit will raise issues such as missile technology collaboration and the supply of weapons for the Ukraine war, and it is drawing attention to what countermeasures will be discussed at the South Korea-China diplomatic and security dialogue held in Seoul at the same time. As China did not explicitly oppose North Korea’s recent missile provocations and violations of UN Security Council sanctions against North Korea at the last South Korea-China-Japan summit, it cannot be ruled out that China may take a similar stance on military technology cooperation between North Korea and Russia.

The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced today that the South Korea-China diplomatic and security dialogue will be held on the 18th, as agreed upon at the bilateral meeting between President Yoon Suk Yeol and Chinese Premier Li Qiang in May.

As South and North Korea engage in diplomatic efforts with China and Russia, respectively, concerns are being raised that the security crisis on the Korean Peninsula could further escalate depending on the agenda and results of the meetings.

It is already an ongoing situation that North Korea is intensifying its nuclear and missile threats by closely aligning with Russia at the level of an alliance. At the same time, it is uncertain whether China will play a role in restraining North Korea.

However, experts predict it would be difficult for Russia to openly offer North Korea a package of advanced military and technological cooperation as North Korea’s diplomatic isolation deepens.

Park Won Gon, a professor of North Korean studies at Ewha Womans University, pointed out that Russia is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, which has passed North Korea sanctions resolutions, said, “Putin’s visit to North Korea will be promoted as an achievement of North Korea leader, Kim Jong Un, but formal strengthening of military cooperation is impossible,” and added, “On the other hand, Putin expressed his gratitude to Yoon Suk Yeol’s prohibition of support for Ukraine’s lethal weapons. There is an implicit agreement between South Korea and Russia on a certain line.”

Im Eul Chul, a professor of the Institute for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University, also said, “If North Korea and Russia go beyond the current arms trade and form a military alliance, it means that they are willing to confront South Korea, the United States, and NATO, which is a tremendous burden.”

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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