What Is North Korea Doing About Ukraine

Background Information

North Korea is a nation located in East Asia that borders South Korea, China, and Russia. The country has been an area of high political tension and economic depravation for decades, with the United Nations imposing a number of sanctions against the country. Over the last few years, the government of North Korea has taken an increasing interest in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. This is especially relevant given that Russia has been a historical ally of North Korea and provides the country with much needed economic and military support.

North Korean Involvement

Despite North Korea’s desire to take a more active role in international affairs, Pyongyang has resisted any overt involvement in the Ukraine conflict. This is likely due to North Korea being aware of the implications of being involved in a conflict between two major world powers, as well as the potential damage to North Korea’s relationships with both Russia and the United States.
However, North Korea has not remained entirely silent. In 2018, North Korea issued a joint statement with China and Russia expressing their support for a roadmap that would lead to a peaceful solution to the crisis in Ukraine. They also urged the Ukranian government to pursue constructive dialogue with representatives from the various areas of the country in order to reach a lasting solution to the conflict.
North Korea has also made efforts to support Ukraine in other ways, including providing medical and food aid to the country. In 2019, North Korean companies have donated supplies such as medicine and agricultural equipment to the Ukrainian government, in an effort to help the Ukrainian people cope with the economic pressure caused by the conflict.

North Korean Motives

One of the reasons North Korea has taken an interest in the crisis in Ukraine is because it provides an opportunity for Pyongyang to manifest its position as a responsible international actor on the world stage. By expressing a willingness to help in the resolution of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, North Korea can demonstrate that it is a reliable partner able to bring stability to the region.
Additionally, North Korea may seek to capitalize on increased tensions between Russia and the West by positioning itself as a mediator in the conflict. By taking a neutral stance in the conflict, North Korea can present itself as a bridge between East and West and improve its own diplomatic relations with both sides of the divide.
Finally, North Korea may also be looking to expand its economic ties with Ukraine. The economic aid provided by North Korea is seen as a way of improving its relations with Ukraine and could pave the way for future expanded economic cooperation between the two countries.

North Korean Challenges

In spite of North Korea’s growing involvement in the Ukraine conflict, challenges remain for Pyongyang in terms of how it is perceived on the world stage. North Korea remains mostly isolated from the rest of the world and will likely face resistance in its attempts to make its voice heard in international affairs. Additionally, North Korea lacks the necessary resources to effectively intervene in the conflict and its involvement remains largely symbolic.
Moreover, North Korea’s involvement in the conflict may be seen by some as a tacit endorsement of Russian aggression, which may damage North Korea’s reputation in the international community. This could harm North Korea’s efforts to improve its diplomatic relations with other nations and may ultimately prove detrimental to the country’s efforts to end its isolation and become a more active international player.

North Korean Position

Despite the challenges, it appears that North Korea is committed to playing a role in the resolution of the conflict in Ukraine. The North Korean government has expressed a desire to help to broker a lasting peace deal and is attempting to further its economic ties with Ukraine.
However, North Korea’s involvement remains largely symbolic, as the country does not have the resources to directly intervene in the conflict or independently broker a peace deal. Additionally, North Korea will likely face significant resistance from the international community and Russia if it sends a more direct message on behalf of Ukraine.

North Korea’s Response

In response to the conflict in Ukraine, the North Korean government has adopted a cautious and measured stance. North Korea has avoided taking any direct action in the conflict and has instead expressed support for a peaceful resolution via diplomatic means. Pyongyang has also provided some aid to Ukraine in an effort to help the country cope with the economic strain caused by the conflict.
At the same time, North Korea remains cautious about its involvement and is aware of the potential damage to its diplomatic relations with Russia if it takes a more active stance. This cautious approach means that North Korea is unlikely to become a major player in the conflict and its involvement remains largely symbolic.

North Korea’s Influence

Despite North Korea’s cautious approach, it is likely that Pyongyang is playing a role in the conflict via its support of a diplomatic solution. North Korea’s involvement may be seen as a way of sending a message to all parties that it wishes to remain a reliable partner in the region and is willing to help resolve the conflict.
While North Korea has the potential to influence the outcome of the conflict in Ukraine, it is too early to determine the extent of its influence. North Korea’s current stance appears to be one of caution, and it is likely that it will continue to remain on the sidelines of the conflict until it is certain that its actions would be beneficial for both Ukraine and North Korea itself.

Global Effects

The conflict between Ukraine and Russia has had far reaching consequences for global politics and has been a source of concern for many nations. This is particularly true for North Korea, which has been an ally of Russia. North Korea’s involvement in the conflict, however limited, serves to illustrate the changining geopolitical landscape and the way in which smaller nations can play a role in international affairs.
By providing aid to Ukraine and diplomatic support for a peaceful resolution to the conflict, North Korea has demonstrated a willingness to take a more active role in global affairs and has shown that it can make a positive contribution to regional stability. This has expanded North Korea’s influence in the international arena and is likely to be seen as a positive development by many nations.


Despite North Korea’s desire to play a more active role in international affairs, North Korea has largely remained on the sidelines of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. Pyongyang has expressed support for a peaceful resolution to the crisis and has provided some economic aid to Ukraine, but has refrained from taking a more direct role in the conflict.
The North Korean government is well aware of the implications of its involvement in such a conflict and is thus attempting to remain a reliable partner in the region without damaging its own relationship with Russia. It is this cautious approach that has allowed North Korea to remain a viable partner in the conflict and has helped to expand the country’s influence in global affairs.

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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