Tensions are escalating as Russia’s ties with North Korea strengthen amid the war in Ukraine. During a recent visit to the North Korean capital, Moscow’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, highlighted last month’s summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un in Russia’s far east as a testament to their evolving “strategic level” relationship.
Expressing gratitude to Pyongyang, Lavrov commended North Korea for its unwavering support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This comes in the wake of US allegations that North Korean weaponry is aiding Russia’s military endeavors in the region.
Recent conversations between Kim and Putin, held in Russia, are believed to have centered around arms supply and Russia’s potential assistance to North Korea’s space program. According to the White House, the procurement of arms has already commenced, with over 1,000 containers of military equipment and munitions being dispatched from North Korea to Russia. Moscow, however, denies these claims, stating that the US has no concrete evidence.
Supporting the US’s claims, the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies observed increased activity in a North Korean port adjacent to the Russian border. Satellite images showcase a significant surge in train traffic along the Russia-North Korea frontier, hinting at potential arms and ammunition supplies to Russia.
Analysts speculate that North Korea, in exchange for these weapons, would seek advanced Russian aerospace and military tech. North Korea’s endeavors to deploy a military reconnaissance satellite have been unsuccessful thus far, with another attempt anticipated soon.
Highlighting his first overseas visit post the pandemic onset, Kim reiterated the importance of Moscow ties, branding it his “top priority”. He also expressed his view on the Ukraine war, seeing it as a move against dominant powers trying to jeopardize Russia’s security.
To counterbalance this alliance, the US, South Korea, and Japan are amplifying their military collaboration. Recently, naval forces from the US, South Korea, and four other nations, including Canada, undertook anti-mine exercises off the South Korean coast. Moreover, the US has deployed a B-52 bomber, capable of carrying nuclear weapons, to Cheongju airport, situated south of Seoul.