Russia and North Korea military pact - GulfToday

Russia and North Korea military pact

Vladimir Putin (left) and Kim Jong Un pose for a photo during a signing ceremony for a new partnership in Pyongyang, North Korea. AP

Vladimir Putin (left) and Kim Jong Un pose for a photo during a signing ceremony for a new partnership in Pyongyang, North Korea. AP

It would seem natural that Russia and North Korea, which face a hostile West and its supporters should reach a military agreement to defend each other in the face of an attack from the West or any other.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his first visit to Pyongyang in 24 years, has signed the agreement with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The pact says that if either Russia or North Korea is at war, then the other is at war too. That is, if Russia is attacked, then North Korea is at war with the country or group of countries that attack Russia.

And if North Korea is attacked by any country, then Russia is at war with the country or countries that have attacked North Korea. This is the language of the alliances that marked the pre-World War One and pre-World War Two Europe and the United States, and also that of the post-World War Two alliances like the NATO and the Warsaw Pact (which is an alliance between the Soviet Union and the East European communist states).

When the Soviet Union had disbanded in 19901, so did the Warsaw Pact. The NATO remained even after its main enemy, communist Soviet Union had collapsed.

Interestingly, the new pact between Russia and North Korea cannot be invoked because in the ongoing war in Ukraine, it is Russia which has attacked Ukraine. Ukraine has not attacked Russia. And so far, NATO led by the United States has not attacked Russia. And the pact will come into effect only if the United States or South Korea or Japan were to attack North Korea, which is quite unlikely despite the tensions between North Korea and the United States, North Korea and South Korea and North Korea and Japan.

The other question that arises is whether the Russia-North Korea can be expanded? It does not appear likely. China would be considered a possible ally. China is indeed close to both Russia and North Korea, but Beijing has not shown any interest so far in signing a military alliance with either of the two. China is also closely tied to both Europe and the United States because of the economy, despite the political and economic differences between them. China does not see itself as an enemy of the West. Beijing has economic stakes in Europe and in the United States.

North Korea is seen as one of the most isolated countries because of its hardened stance towards South Korea and Japan. The clandestine transfer of nuclear technology either to Pakistan or Iran is only a matter of speculation. North Korea has, however, openly declared its possession of nuclear weapons, and it loses no opportunity to declare its nuclear arsenal as a military deterrent. In the wake of the war in Ukraine, Russia has become a relatively isolated country in Europe.

But Russia has friends not only in China, but in large parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

It would appear that the military pact between Moscow and Pyongyang is of limited significance, more reassuring to North Korea and to Russia without posing any threat to anyone else in the world. The Western speculation would be that if North Korea were to serve as the armaments factory for Russia, and if Russia were to share its military technology with North Korea, then it poses a serious threat to the world. Russia’s technological impact has taken a backseat for a long time now, and North Korea’s nuclear and military capabilities appear to be very limited.

Russia and North Korea are looking to each other for help and assurance, but it does not have any wider impact.


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