North Korea and Russia share a long relationship that has often been seen as one of strong cooperation. In recent years, both countries have worked together to further their geopolitical interests, most notably in the areas of military and economic cooperation. This cooperation has been further cemented by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s visits to Russia and his meetings with President Vladimir Putin.
On the surface, North Korea and Russia appear to be allies, but their relationship is complex. While they both believe in strengthening their nations’ security, they have different interests and priorities.
North Korea and Russia hold different views on the nuclear issue, with Russia taking a harder stance on sanctions against the North Korean regime. North Korea has also accused Russia of taking advantages of their relationship, by exploiting North Korea’s need for economic assistance.
Rhetorically, Russia has been vocal in its support of North Korea, primarily in its criticism of the United States and its decision to impose sanctions on North Korea. At times, Russia has gone as far as to criticize American policy decisions, calling them “illegal” and “unjustified.” However, in practice, the Russian government has been more cautious and has not taken any action to directly undermine U.S. policy towards North Korea.
In terms of economic cooperation, Russia has provided North Korea with various forms of financial aid and investment, including food, fuel, weapons, and technology. These efforts have been seen as a way for Moscow to support the North Korean regime and maintain control over the Korean peninsula.
Another area of cooperation between North Korea and Russia is in the military realm. North Korea has traditionally relied on Russia for military equipment, with Moscow supplying North Korea with their latest tanks, fighter jets, and other weapons. North Korea has also turned to Russia for military personnel training, something that has been highlighted in recent years.
While Russia and North Korea have different goals and agendas, they also have common interests. Both countries oppose the United States’ foreign policy, and both are concerned with maintaining regional stability. North Korea and Russia also both want to avoid being isolated by the U.S. and its allies. Thus, by keeping Russia onboard, North Korea may be hoping to better position itself vis-à-vis the U.S. and the West.
Economic ties and Interdependence
The economic ties between North Korea and Russia are not as close as those between North Korea and China but they have been increasing in recent years, especially in the wake of the economic sanctions placed on North Korea by the United Nations Security Council. In 2015, Russia provided North Korea with a much-needed $25 million loan to help alleviate the country’s economic issues.
Additionally, Russian oil companies have been supplying the North Korean government with petroleum and petroleum products. This has been in place since 2008 and has become a major source of income for the North Korean state. Furthermore, North Korea has also become more reliant on Russia for food and other essential goods. North Korea’s trade with Russia has been growing over the past few years, with North Korea’s exports to Russia increasing from $43 million in 2012 to $91 million in 2018.
The increased economic ties between North Korea and Russia have led to an increased interdependence between the two countries. Russia is heavily dependent on North Korea as a source of cheap labor and raw materials, while North Korea relies on Russia for essential goods and services that it otherwise won’t be able to find elsewhere.
Moreover, North Korea and Russia also have shared interests in the security realm. Russia, being the regional power in the region, is looking to maintain regional stability and the North Korean regime is a key ally in this regard. Russia thus seeks to maintain North Korea’s loyalty and ensure its own interests in the region.
Military ties and Nuclear Agenda
Russia’s relations with North Korea have been further bolstered by their strong military ties. Russia has traditionally provided North Korea with military equipment and training, as well as a steady stream of weapons and technology. North Korea has also mostly relied on Russia for its nuclear development and missile program.
In 2014, Russia and North Korea signed an agreement on nuclear cooperation, which allowed for the construction of the Russian-constructed Vostochny nuclear power plant in North Korea. This was seen as a major step forward in the nuclear ambitions of North Korea, as well as a major sign of cooperation between the two nations.
Russia has also sought to play a more active role in the North Korean nuclear issue. They have strongly advocated for the continuation of the Six-Party Talks with North Korea, which include the United States, South Korea, China, Russia, and Japan. Russia has also been actively involved in finding a peaceful resolution to the North Korean crisis, proposing various initiatives that could alleviate the tensions on the Korean peninsula.
Regional Ties and Diplomatic Posture
In recent years, Russia has been looking to expand its ties with North Korea to other countries in the region. Russia has been actively involved in various multilateral platforms such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. It has also been involved in various diplomatic efforts with South Korea and Japan, as well as negotiations between China, the United States, and North Korea.
Russia has also taken a more active role in diplomatic efforts toward the North Korean regime. At times, the Russian government has been outspoken about their criticism of the United States’ foreign policy decisions, including those towards North Korea.
However, Russia has also actively pushed to resolve the situation on the Korean peninsula. For instance, it has been advocating for a negotiated settlement to the North Korean nuclear issue. It has also been involved in the Six-Party Talks and in helping to facilitate the recent talks between North Koreans and South Koreans.
Overall, it seems that North Korean and Russia’s relationship is rooted in the mixture of geopolitical interests, economic cooperation and military ties. Russia seeks to be a key player in the region and North Korea seeks a strong ally and protector. Despite this, the two countries have also been cautious and opportunistic in their relationship as well as aware of their respective strengths and weaknesses.
Despite tensions between North Korea and the United States, Russia has maintained a neutral position toward North Korea, calling for peaceful dialogue and negotiations between the two countries. It has also used its strong relationship with North Korea to further its own geopolitical aspirations, by seeking to extend its influence into other regions of the world.
In the long run, the relationship between North Korea and Russia is likely to remain complex and dynamic, with both countries playing a key role in regional security. North Korea and Russia will no doubt continue to cooperate economically and militarily while also depending on each other to provide security and stability.
Views of the International Community
The relationship between North Korea and Russia is not without criticism by the international community. Many in the international community have voiced their opposition to the uation and their concern about Russia’s perceived support of North Korea.
The most vocal in the criticism has been the United States, with President Trump being particularly outspoken in his criticism of Russia’s ties to North Korea. However, many other countries have also raised their concerns about Russia’s involvement in the region, including China, Japan, and South Korea.
The international community’s response to the situation has been mixed. Some have called for additional sanctions against Russia, while others have urged Russia to take a greater role in alleviating the current situation on the Korean peninsula. Whatever the international opinion, it is clear that the North Korean-Russian relationship is complex and has far-reaching implications.
Evolution in the Relationship
In recent years, it seems that the North Korean-Russian relationship has grown closer despite criticisms of the international community. Russia has been providing strong economic and military support for the North Korean regime, as well as taking a more active role in the negotiations between the United States and North Korea.
It remains to be seen whether this increased cooperation between North Korea and Russia will have a positive effect on the international community, or whether it will lead to further animosity between the United States and other countries in the region. However, what is clear is that North Korea and Russia are two countries that are closely linked and that their relationship is likely to evolve even further in the future.