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May 29, 2024

Putin Pledges to Visit North Korea Soon as Military Ties Deepen

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Jan 21, 2024

Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed his intention to visit North Korea in the near future, according to statements from North Korean state media on January 21st. This potential visit comes amid strengthening ties between Russia and North Korea, particularly in the areas of economic and military cooperation.

Deepening Russia-North Korea Relations

Russia and North Korea have been building closer relations in recent years in the face of increased international sanctions and pressure on both countries. Some key areas where cooperation has deepened:

  • Economic Ties: Russia has provided some economic aid and has discussed plans for infrastructure projects to boost North Korea’s economy. There are also discussions around connecting the Trans-Siberian railway to North Korea.

  • Military Cooperation: Speculation that Russia could provide additional military equipment to North Korea, though details are scarce. The two countries have also cooperated more closely on missile and nuclear technology.

  • Diplomatic Alignment: Russia and North Korea have aligned more closely diplomatically, opposing policies of the United States and its allies, particularly sanctions.

This strengthening of ties comes as both nations face increased international isolation – North Korea over its nuclear weapons program and Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. Closer relations offer economic and diplomatic benefits to both sides.

Previous Putin-Kim Summitry

While a Putin visit to Pyongyang would be a first, he has already met multiple times with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un:

  • April 2019: Kim visits Russia for his first ever summit with Putin. The two leaders call for stronger bilateral ties.

  • November 2022: Putin and Kim exchange letters praising their strategic partnership and opposition to U.S. “hostile policy.”

So a Putin visit to Pyongyang would build on ongoing high-level engagement between the two sides as their alignment continues to deepen.

North Korean Foreign Minister Visit to Russia

North Korea’s Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui just concluded an official visit to Russia from January 15-20, holding talks with her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

Key outcomes from this visit:

  • Both sides vowed to expand military cooperation and “strategic communication”
  • Discussed connecting the Trans-Siberian railway to North Korea
  • Considered Russian investment in North Korean seaports
  • Lavrov stated Russia’s opposition to “any form of pressure and sanctions” on North Korea

So this visit saw progress around economic projects and military ties, while reaffirming their growing diplomatic and strategic alignment – setting the scene for an upcoming Putin visit.

Speculation Around Putin Visit Timing

The statements from North Korea did not specify an exact timeframe for when Putin might visit Pyongyang. Some analysts suggest it could happen soon:

  • Visit may coincide with founding anniversary of the North Korean army on February 8th
  • Could be held while Russia chairs the UN Security Council in February

Others argue a visit could take longer to organize logistically and may not be until late 2024. Some factors include:

  • Planning security, travel logistics, agenda for high-stakes summit
  • Timing visit to leverage maximum propaganda value

Table summarizing potential windows:

Potential Visit Timeframe Rationale
Early February 2024 Align with North Korean army anniversary on Feb 8
February 2024 Occur while Russia chairs UN Security Council
Late 2024 Time needed to fully plan details of visit

So while a visit seems highly likely, the exact timing is still uncertain. Putin’s schedule is difficult to predict and there may be shifts depending on geopolitical developments.

Goals and Agenda for a Putin Visit

A visit by Putin to North Korea would be a major propaganda win for both leaders. Some of the key items it could involve:

  • Affirming Alliance: Chance for Russia and North Korea to visually reaffirm their strengthened alliance in response to Western pressure

  • Military Deals: Potential announcements around new Russian arms sales or military technology transfers to North Korea

  • Economic Talks: Discussing Russian investment in North Korean infrastructure and development projects

  • Nuclear Dialogue: Russia affirming acceptance of North Korea as a nuclear state, calling for relaxed sanctions

  • U.S. Messaging: Speeches and rhetoric aimed at United States and its allies, condemning “hostile policy”

So the visit would enable both Russia and North Korea to clearly demonstrate their growing strategic and economic alignment while directing strong criticism at U.S.-led efforts to isolate them.

It would also be a status boost for Kim Jong Un, at a time when North Korea’s economy is struggling under sanctions. Several propaganda set-piece summits could further cement Kim’s position.

Broader Geopolitical Impact

Such a high-profile visit would send alarm bells in many global capitals and exacerbate tensions:

  • Raising Nuclear Tensions: Renewed activity around North Korea’s nuclear program risks renewed crisis

  • Alarming Japan/South Korea: Visit would prompt fears over military threat, calls for vigilance

  • Complicating China Ties: China has complex North Korea ties – visit could perturb relations

  • Angering United States: Fury in Washington, pressure to impose additional sanctions

So a Putin trip to North Korea could destabilize regional security efforts and inflame global tensions. It would indicate growing Russian support for North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

The deepening Russia-North Korea alignment also creates a serious new strategic threat to U.S. interests in Asia at a time when America faces renewed competition with China and Russia.

Next Steps and Implications

In the coming weeks and months, key developments to monitor include:

  • Finalizing Visit Plans: Watch for announcements from both sides formally confirming Putin will visit and rough timeframe

  • UN Activity: Speeches and actions while Russia chairs UN Security Council in February

  • Military Deal Reports: Any evidence from satellites or reports of new North Korean arms acquisitions

  • Allied Response: Reactions from U.S., Japan, South Korea – watch for policy shifts and/or sanctions

This growing North Korea-Russia partnership has serious implications for regional stability and efforts to counter nuclear proliferation by multiple U.S. administrations.

While details remain uncertain, a visit by Putin to Pyongyang would clearly signify deepening ties between two isolated authoritarian regimes opposed to U.S. power. This risks exacerbating multiple global crises in an already turbulent time in geopolitics.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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