Does North Korea Side With Russia


North Korea and Russia have a long-standing relationship which dates back to the 1950s when the Soviet Union was providing economic and military aid to the country during its post-war reconstruction period. While the collapse of the Soviet Union led to a reduction in aid, the two countries still share a strong bond, and Russia has been seen as a key supporter of the isolated nation. In recent years, the relationship between North Korea and Russia has become increasingly closer with both countries displaying closer ties in the diplomatic sphere. This has led to speculation that North Korea and Russia may be closer allies than previously thought.

Bilateral Relations

North Korea and Russia have maintained close ties for decades, with trade volume between them increasing steadily. In 2020, North Korea’s exports to Russia accounted for around 10% of its total exports. Russia is said to be especially interested in North Korean resources such as rare earths, coal and iron ore extracted from the North Korean Mount Paektu. Despite sanctions imposed on North Korea by the UN, Russia has made efforts to bypass the restrictions and has supported North Korean industry in a number of areas.

Military Cooperation

North Korea and Russia have a long history of military cooperation which has been bolstered by their recent warming of relations. Russia has sold various military equipment to North Korea, including missiles, submarines, helicopters and other weapons. Russia is said to be increasing its support for North Korea’s weapons programs, although it has not been reported to have direct involvement in North Korea’s nuclear program.

Political Support

In addition to military support, Russia has been a vocal political supporter of North Korea. Russia has consistently supported North Korea’s efforts to open up nuclear talks with the US, and the two countries share similar perspectives on many global issues. At the 2018 Moscow Conference on International Security, the two countries reaffirmed their strong relationship and called on the US and its allies to “stop creating obstacles between the two countries for having full-fledged dialogue.”

International Repercussions

The strengthening of ties between North Korea and Russia has had repercussions in the region and further afield. China, North Korea’s closest ally, has reportedly expressed concern over the growing relationship between the two countries. There have also been reports that the US has urged other nations to take a stand against Russia’s support of North Korea. More recently, South Korea and Japan have expressed concern over North Korea’s growing dependence on Russia, raising worries over their security.

Sanctions Implications

There have been reports of North Korea increasingly relying on Russia to bypass the sanctions imposed by the UN. In addition, Russia’s support in the form of weapons and economic aid is said to have allowed North Korea to build up its military capacity and develop its nuclear program despite the restrictions. This has made it difficult for the international community to exert pressure on North Korea to comply with the sanctions.

Analysis of the Strength of the Alliance

Most experts agree that while Russia and North Korea have a strong relationship, they are not necessarily allies. Both countries have a mutual interest in maintaining their current relationship but neither have an allegiance to the other nor stand to benefit greatly from it. In addition, North Korea has repeatedly rejected Russia’s proposals for a tighter strategic alliance, and North Korean state media shows no signs of publicly supporting Russia’s foreign policy.

Financial Cooperation

Russia has been reportedly keen to provide financial aid to North Korea in its attempt to circumvent the international sanctions imposed on the country. In 2018, it was reported that North Korea and Russia had met in Vladivostok to discuss trade and potential investment opportunities. These meetings are said to have been part of Russia’s effort to provide financial aid to North Korea which could help further increase Russian influence in the country.

Political and Military Outlook

Despite the uncertain nature of the relationship between Russia and North Korea, it is expected to grow stronger in the near future. Russia has called for closer ties with North Korea and has expressed support for North Korean efforts to open up dialogue with the US. In terms of the military alliance, it is believed that Russia’s support for North Korea’s weapons program could potentially lead to a more formalized military alliance in the future.

Human Rights Considerations

Russia has been criticized for providing aid to a country with such poor human rights records. The US State Department’s latest report on North Korea noted that the country’s human rights abuses “remain among the worst in the world.” This has led to calls for Russia to take a stronger stance against North Korea’s systematic violations of human rights.

Economic Assistance

In addition to providing political and military support, Russia has also been aiding North Korea in its economic revival. Russia has been providing North Korea with economic assistance in the form of oil imports and other resources. This has made Russia an important economic partner for North Korea and has enabled the country to maintain its economy despite the crippling sanctions imposed by the UN.


The relationship between North Korea and Russia has grown closer in recent years with both countries displaying a growing level of cooperation in the diplomatic and economic spheres. While it is still uncertain whether it has developed into a formal alliance, the two countries have shown a willingness to work together in various areas which could potentially lead to a further deepening of their relationship in the future.

Cassie Grissom is an American journalist and author living in Seoul, South Korea. She has been studying the Korean peninsula since 2011, and her work focuses on understanding human rights issues in North Korea. In addition to her work as an author, Cassie is an active advocate for human rights in North Korea. She regularly shares stories about life in North Korea with international audiences to raise awareness of the plight of its citizens.

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