Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin have close ties to building an alliance. Photo/Reuters
MOSCOW – A meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could help reshape North Korea’s closed and distrustful ways towards its partners in Moscow and Beijing.
When Kim visited Russia for the first time in 2019, his summit with Putin was almost an afterthought amid high-profile meetings with then-US President Donald Trump and several visits to meet North Korea’s only treaty ally and major economic partner. , China.
This year, Pyongyang’s relations with Moscow have been in the spotlight, with Kim choosing Russia – not China – for his first overseas visit since before the COVID-19 pandemic, raising the prospect that he may want to balance the two powers on his borders.
It remains to be seen whether Putin and Kim agree on anything substantive like an arms deal or economic aid, but their moves to improve relations may impact the war in Ukraine, tensions with South Korea and Japan, and Sino-US relations.
“North Korea is basically on its own, with no real allies,” said Artyom Lukin of the Russian Far Eastern Federal University. “Now North Korea needs allies in a political-military sense.”
China will be Pyongyang’s main ally and protector, but Russia will also play a role, he said.
“In contrast to the China-North Korea alliance, the Russia-North Korea alliance will be equal,” he added.
Early in his reign, Kim’s relations with Beijing and Moscow were frosty, with both countries participating in international sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear weapons and missile programs.
However, since 2018, Kim has sought to improve relations and capitalize on the rivalry that has separated China and Russia from the United States and other countries.