June 19, 2024

Institute for the Study of War:  Russia, North Korea sign ‘comprehensive strategic partnership agreement’

Institute for the Study of War

Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un signed a comprehensive strategic partnership agreement in Pyongyang on June 19, likely aimed in part to use military-technical cooperation with North Korea as a threat against the West to discourage further support for Ukraine. Putin arrived with a delegation of Russian ministers in Pyongyang on June 19 and signed the agreement with Kim, but neither Russian nor North Korean officials have published the official text of this agreement as of the time of this publication. Putin and Kim each spoke about the agreement, claiming that it broadly covers goals and guidelines for deepening Russian–North Korean long-term relations in the political, economic, trade, cultural, humanitarian, and security fields. Putin specified that the strategic partnership agreement also provides for “mutual assistance in the event of aggression” against either Russia or North Korea, then immediately criticized conversations in the West about allowing Ukraine to strike areas in Russia with Western-provided long-range weapons and F-16 jets. Putin then concluded that “in this regard,” Russia does “not rule out the development of military-technical cooperation” with North Korea. Putin likely intended to signal that should the US lift its restrictions against Ukrainian using US-provided ATACMS to strike Russian territory or other restrictions against using F-16s for the same purposes, Russia will likely deepen cooperation with North Korea in the sphere of military technologies such as missiles, other arms, and satellites through the legal framework provided in this new agreement. Putin and other Kremlin officials will likely continue to leverage this threat as debates about permitting Ukraine to use Western-provided weapons to strike military targets in Russian territory continue and may also expand this threat to other issues that the Kremlin has historically framed as “escalatory” or “provocations” against Russia. Russia will likely continue to deepen its cooperation with North Korea, regardless of Western self-imposed restrictions on military aid provisions to Ukraine and policies restricting Ukrainian long-range strikes against Russian sanctuary, as Russia had been doing throughout its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian and North Korean governments largely framed the agreement as evidence of their mutual support as part of a common struggle against the West and signaled that Russia and North Korea share a goal to challenge the West and the current world order. Putin claimed that Russia and North Korea both aim to create “a more just and democratic multipolar world order” and that both countries pursue “independent foreign policy” — setting them apart from Western states. Putin also credited Kim with holding an “objective and balanced view” about the war in Ukraine. Kim and Putin also emphasized the “traditionally friendly and good” relations between Russia and North Korea “based on the glorious traditions of common history” — continuing to invoke the historical memory of the Soviet Union’s support of North Korea to appeal to the propaganda of the Kim regime and the North Korean people. North Korean state media published readouts similarly emphasizing Russia’s and North Korea’s common cause, emphasizing that North Korea stands in solidarity with “the sacred cause of the Russian army and people who are proudly advancing towards justice and truth.” The Kremlin published extensive images of Putin’s visit to Pyongyang, including a lavish military-patriotic parade, North Korean civilians holding flowers and celebrating Putin’s arrival, and Kim personally escorting Putin to and from his plane on the tarmac — all underscoring the two regimes’ emphasis on friendship and their determination to support each other. Putin’s visit and the Russian–North Korean strategic cooperation agreement help legitimize Kim’s regime domestically and abroad, as ISW has previously noted, and Putin also discussed increasing trade between Russia and North Korea, posturing that improving trade and infrastructure also benefits their shared partner, the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Key Takeaways:

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un signed a comprehensive strategic partnership agreement in Pyongyang on June 19, likely aimed in part to use military-technical cooperation with North Korea as a threat against the West to discourage further support for Ukraine. Russian and North Korea largely framed the agreement as evidence of their mutual support as part of a common struggle against the West and signaled that they share a goal to challenge the West and current world order.
  • Putin is pursuing a coalition of friendly states with historically warm ties to the Soviet Union to act as an alternative to the West and current world order.
  • Russian government officials announced their intention on June 19 to suspend Russia’s participation in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA).
  • The Russian military command continues to endorse a culture of permissiveness towards war crimes perpetrated by subordinates on the battlefield in Ukraine.
  • The Russian government is attempting to deflect responsibility for well-documented Russian violations of international law regarding Russia’s treatment of Ukrainian children by accusing the Ukrainian Armed Forces and other security structures of committing “crimes” against children.
  • Air traffic control (ATC) communications from international airspace over the northeastern Atlantic Ocean appear to show the first confirmed instance of GPS jamming on commercial trans-Atlantic routes.
  • Ukrainian forces recaptured positions near Starytsya and Russian forces recently advanced near Chasiv Yar and Donetsk City and in east (left) bank Kherson Oblast. 

  • Finnish outlet Yle, citing satellite imagery and Finnish intelligence sources, reported on June 19 that the Russian military has deployed roughly 80 percent of its equipment and personnel based near the Russian-Finnish border to support its invasion of Ukraine.

For full report:  https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-june-19-2024

Share the Post: