What We Know:
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu visited North Korea on Thursday to discuss National Security, military issues, and the regional security issues at this time. This visit comes on the 70th anniversary of the armistice that ended the fighting in the Korean war. North Korea’s state media claims that Kim Jong Un took the minister to an arms expedition followed by a meeting to discuss military expansion plans and future goals.
Why Does It Matter:
North Korea has been in an isolated diplomatic stance since 2020. Meetings have been rare and engagement with other countries has been minimal. With the war in Ukraine and China’s actions in the Pacific, North Korea is likely seizing an opportunity to improve relations with American rivals making Pacific tensions even tighter.
Recently, North Korea has launched multiple test runs of ballistic missiles, some of which could potentially reach Washington D.C. Recently, North Korea has been increasingly outspoken of the U.S.’s “hegemonic policies” forcing the Russian government to take action and preserve their interest.
John Kirby, the White House’s National Security Council coordinator believes that Vladimir Putin is likely conducting this visit in hopes of handling “defense problems, and inventory problems…”
With no end in sight for the war in Ukraine, North Korea is likely aiming for a long term partnership that will ultimately undercut the U.S. With both Russia and China having seats on the security council, North Korea is likely aiming at being able to conduct more missile tests and military maneuvers with less consequence than before.
Good relations with North Korea represents a strategic interest both to Russia and China due to the countries proximity to major U.S. allies such as South Korea and Japan. It also serves as a good distraction to keep stretch the U.S. and it’s allies resources.
One unforeseen consequence is many South Pacific nations agreeing to align themselves with NATO without actually joining the alliance. Both North Korea and China have been extremely aggressive in the region and it has caused many nations to look to the U.S. for stability and security.
This meeting shows that North Korea is likely trying to gain a position at the table with Russia and China. With nuclear missiles that pose a threat to the mainland U.S., it is likely that there will be more open diplomacy between China, North Korea, and Russia. Although this meeting was very brief and only covered mutual security issues, there is enough reason to believe there will be more.