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Russia and North Korea sign partnership deal that appears to be the strongest since the Cold War

Putin and Kim jong

SEOUL, South Korea — In a historic summit on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un formalized a new partnership agreement, pledging mutual aid in the event of aggression against either nation. This move comes as both countries grapple with escalating conflicts with Western powers.

The specifics of the agreement remain undisclosed, but it is seen as the most significant collaboration between Moscow and Pyongyang since the Cold War. The leaders emphasized the deal’s comprehensive scope, encompassing security, trade, investment, and cultural and humanitarian ties.

Putin’s visit to North Korea, his first in 24 years, occurs amidst growing international concern over potential arms deals between the two nations. Speculations suggest North Korea might supply Russia with munitions for its war in Ukraine in return for economic assistance and technology transfers, potentially bolstering Kim’s nuclear and missile capabilities.

Kim described the partnership as a “fiery friendship” and the “strongest ever treaty,” elevating the relationship to an alliance level. He pledged unwavering support for Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

Putin, calling the agreement a “breakthrough document,” highlighted the shared objective of strengthening bilateral relations. He expressed gratitude for North Korea’s support in Ukraine, framing it as part of a broader struggle against U.S. and allied “imperialist hegemonistic policies.”

This new pact follows historical precedents, notably the 1961 treaty between North Korea and the former Soviet Union, which mandated Moscow’s military intervention if the North was attacked. That treaty was replaced in 2000 with a less binding agreement. It remains uncertain if the new pact offers protections akin to the 1961 accord.

Kim accorded Putin a lavish reception, meeting him at the airport with a grand procession through Pyongyang. Celebrations included tens of thousands of spectators, children with balloons, and coordinated displays of both nations’ national colors. The leaders saluted an honor guard and engaged in discussions accompanied by key North Korean officials.

Putin’s foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, reported that the leaders exchanged gifts, including a Russian-made Aurus limousine from Putin to Kim. Russian media indicated that Kim would host a reception for Putin before his departure to Vietnam.

In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken remarked that Putin’s visit underscores Russia’s desperation to secure alliances that support its war efforts in Ukraine. South Korean officials are closely analyzing the summit’s outcomes and potential implications for regional security dynamics.

China, North Korea’s principal ally, responded cautiously, describing the summit as a bilateral arrangement without offering detailed commentary.

Analysts suggest that Putin’s visit to Pyongyang reflects a shift in power dynamics, highlighting Russia’s need for new allies amid international isolation. The North Korean regime may seek to exploit this partnership to enhance its economic standing and mitigate the impacts of stringent U.N. sanctions.

The renewed Moscow-Pyongyang ties occur against a backdrop of heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula, marked by frequent North Korean weapons tests and intensified joint military exercises by the U.S., South Korea, and Japan.

As the global community monitors this evolving alliance, the implications for regional stability and international relations remain profound and complex.