Head of Russian Foreign Intelligence Service Visits North Korea to Discuss Security Cooperation

The head of Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), Sergei Naryshkin, visited Pyongyang to discuss security cooperation with North Korea’s Minister of State Security, Ri Chang-dae. The meeting was aimed at strengthening collaboration against espionage and hostile actions.

This visit followed South Korea’s accusation of North Korea supplying Russia with thousands of containers of weapons to support its invasion of Ukraine. According to Washington, North Korea seeks in return military aid, including satellite technology and military equipment upgrades.

This visit illustrates the strengthening relationship between Russia and North Korea, as highlighted by recent investigations by RUSI and the Financial Times.  Utilizing satellite imagery, a series of oil transfers from Russia to North Korea via tankers at Vostochny port have been uncovered. The investigation also points at North Korea’s provision of munitions to Russia, including missiles utilized in Ukraine, serving as a compensation for the oil it receives, corroborating South Korea’s allegations.

This activity challenges international sanctions against both countries, breaching the UN Security Council’s annual cap of 500,000 barrels imposed on North Korea, and is worsened by the significant volume of arms transferred, with reports indicating around 7,000 containers sent to Russia since the transfers began.