June 18, 2024

Institute for the Study of War: Putin calls for cooperation with North Korea in common struggle against the West

Institute for the Study of War

Russian President Vladimir Putin published an article in North Korean state-owned newspaper Rodong Sinmun praising Russian–North Korean cooperation on the eve of his visit to North Korea, likely to frame any future support that North Korea will lend to Russia as part of a common struggle against the West. Putin invoked the history of the Soviet Union’s support for North Korea during and following the Korean War in his June 18 article and noted that the Soviet Union was the first country to establish diplomatic relations with North Korea. Putin claimed that the Soviet Union’s support helped North Korea strengthen its economy and establish a peaceful society following the Korean War and thanked North Korea for its support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Putin praised Kim Jong-Un’s dedication to his father’s and grandfather’s legacies and praised Pyongyang as a “staunch like-minded” nation who is standing with Russia in opposition to the collective West. Putin reaffirmed Russia’s support for North Korea’s struggle against its enemy — the United States. Putin also implied that Western states are common adversaries of Russia and North Korea. Putin noted that Russia, like North Korea, maintains its strong economy and independence despite Western sanctions and praised North Korea’s long-term struggle against the West. Putin claimed that the West has refused peace offers from both leaders, although both leaders appear averse to serious, good-faith peace negotiations. Putin stated that Russia and North Korea will cooperate to develop a security architecture for Eurasia and expressed hope that their bilateral relations will continue to deepen. Putin’s intentional appeal to known propaganda narratives about the legacies of the Kim regime, the Korean War, and North Korea’s historical struggle against the US and the West is likely setting conditions for Putin to justify his future requests or demands of the North Korean people in support of Russia’s war effort in Ukraine. Putin’s visit to North Korea is also a significant goodwill gesture towards Kim Jong-Un as the visit helps legitimize Kim’s pariah regime both domestically and abroad. Foreign heads of state rarely visit North Korea, and Putin last visited North Korea in 2000. Putin may be using this visit as flattery to assist in extracting additional aid from North Korea in the future, which may range from additional requests for weapon supplies or even manpower; for example, reports in 2022 suggested that North Korea was considering sending North Korean workers to Russian-occupied Ukraine to help with reconstruction efforts.

Select Western officials warned about the dangers of greater cooperation between global authoritarian regimes on June 17 in response to Putin’s visit to North Korea. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated on June 17 that Russia’s growing alignment with its “authoritarian friends” is making it “even more important” for NATO countries to work with their partners in the Indo-Pacific region and condemned the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) and North Korea’s support for Russia’s war effort. US National Security Spokesperson John Kirby stated during a press conference that the US is alarmed by deepening Russian–North Korean relations due to both the consequences in Ukraine and the security of the Korean peninsula. Kirby stated that the US is carefully monitoring the development of Russian–North Korea relations.

Key Takeaways:

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin published an article in North Korean state-owned newspaper Rodong Sinmun praising Russian–North Korean cooperation on the eve of his visit to North Korea, likely to frame any future support that North Korea will lend to Russia as part of a common struggle against the West.
  • Ukrainian forces struck Russian oil depots in Rostov Oblast and Krasnodar Krai overnight on June 17 to 18, using domestically produced Neptune missiles against a ground target in Russia for the second time.
  • Ukrainian forces have now conducted two strikes with its own Neptune missiles against areas in Russian territory that are within range of US-provided ATACMS but that are also protected by US policy that has established a vast sanctuary in Russian territory.
  • The Russian government is charging Ukrainian servicemen and military officials with crimes in absentia as part of its efforts to enforce Russian federal law outside of its jurisdiction and insinuate that Ukraine should not exist as an independent state.
  • Founder of the Kremlin-linked Rybar Telegram Channel, Mikhail Zvinchuk, gave his second uncharacteristically public interview within a month in which he criticized the state of Russia’s war effort in Ukraine and acknowledged that Western sanctions are negatively affecting Russia’s industry and economy.
  • Russian forces recently marginally advanced near Vovchansk, Svatove, and Avdiivka.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin continues efforts to groom Russian military personnel for positions in the Russian government through the Kremlin’s “Time of Heroes” program.
  • Russian occupation officials continue their efforts to militarize Ukrainian youth in occupied Ukraine.

For full report:  https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-june-18-2024 

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