Russia, North Korea Sign ‘Strategic Partnership’ Pact in Pyongyang

The North Korean leader said the treaty elevates bilateral relations ’to the level of an alliance.’

The leaders of Russia and North Korea signed a comprehensive “strategic partnership” treaty on June 19 during a bilateral summit held in Pyongyang, North Korea.

According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who arrived in the North Korean capital a day earlier, the freshly signed pact obliges each party to come to the other’s defense if they are subject to external attack.

“The comprehensive partnership agreement signed today provides … for mutual assistance in the event of aggression against one of the parties,” Mr. Putin said after a signing ceremony with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The Russian leader said the “groundbreaking” agreement also called for enhanced cooperation in the economic, commercial, cultural, and humanitarian fields.

The pact will also establish “comprehensive benchmarks for deepening Russia–Korea relations in the long term,” according to Mr. Putin.

Mr. Kim emphasized the “peaceful and defensive” nature of the treaty, which, he said, elevates bilateral relations “to the level of an alliance.”

“I have no doubt that it will be a driving force toward the establishment of a new multipolar world,” the North Korean leader said.

He also expressed his country’s “unwavering support” for Moscow’s foreign policy trajectory, including its ongoing invasion of eastern Ukraine, now in its third year.

Mr. Putin, who arrived in Pyongyang on June 18, was accompanied by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Defense Minister Andrei Belousov, and a host of other Russian officials.

On June 19, the two leaders met at Pyongyang’s Kumsusan Palace, where they held several hours of closed-door discussions before signing the agreement.

Yury Ushakov, a top Putin aide, said the treaty sought to address “the profound geopolitical changes in the region and world and in Russia–North Korea relations.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters earlier this week that Mr. Putin’s visit to Pyongyang revealed Moscow’s “desperation” to develop ties “with countries that can give it what it needs to continue its war of aggression against Ukraine.”

While Mr. Putin has met with Mr. Kim several times in the past, it was the Russian leader’s first visit to Pyongyang in 24 years.

After leaving North Korea in the evening on June 19, Mr. Putin and his delegation headed to Hanoi for talks with top Vietnamese officials.

A photo provided by North Korea purportedly shows a test of a solid-fuel intermediate-range ballistic missile on Jan. 14, 2024. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)
A photo provided by North Korea purportedly shows a test of a solid-fuel intermediate-range ballistic missile on Jan. 14, 2024. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

Since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, Moscow has openly sought to enhance its relations with Pyongyang, raising alarm bells in Washington.

In previous remarks, Russian and North Korean officials have pledged to enhance bilateral ties in a range of fields, including military technology.

Last September, Mr. Putin met with his North Korean counterpart at a landmark summit in Russia’s Far East.

At the time, Moscow said that deepening bilateral ties included “military interaction and discussion of urgent security issues.”

The rapid development of Russia–North Korea relations has been accompanied by frequent U.S. claims that Pyongyang is supplying Moscow with arms—particularly ballistic missiles—for use in Ukraine.

After last year’s Putin–Kim summit, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan warned that Pyongyang would “pay a price” if North Korean ballistic missiles were employed by Russia in the Ukrainian theater.

Like Russia, North Korea is no stranger to economic sanctions imposed by the West.

In 2017, the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) imposed sanctions on Pyongyang after the latter test-fired a ballistic missile over Japanese territory.

But five years later, Russia joined China to stymie U.S.-led efforts to impose a fresh round of UNSC sanctions on North Korea for its ballistic missile program.

In January, the White House, citing “declassified intelligence,” alleged that Russian forces were actively using North Korean munitions to strike Ukrainian targets.

On the eve of Mr. Putin’s visit to Pyongyang, a U.S. State Department spokesman repeated the claim, saying North Korea had recently given Russia “dozens of ballistic missiles.”

Moscow and Pyongyang have consistently denied the allegations.

Russian officials have also been quick to note that, since the conflict began in 2022, Kyiv’s Western allies have given Ukraine vast quantities of offensive arms and equipment.

Speaking in Pyongyang, Mr. Putin addressed the recent decision by some NATO members—including the United States—to let Ukraine use Western munitions to strike targets inside Russian territory.

“These aren’t just empty statements [by Western officials],” Mr. Putin said. “It’s already happening.”

As of press time, U.S. officials had yet to issue a statement on the freshly signed partnership treaty between Moscow and Pyongyang.

However, a State Department spokesperson told The Epoch Times that deepening Russia–North Korea relations “should be of great concern to anyone interested in maintaining stability on the Korean Peninsula, upholding the non-proliferation regime, abiding by UNSC resolutions, and supporting the people of Ukraine … against Russia’s brutal invasion.

“We don’t believe any country should give Mr. Putin a platform to promote his war of aggression against Ukraine,” the spokesperson said.

Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.


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