Why Russia-North Korea Summit Has Serious Strategic Implications?


by Faheem ul Islam

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The Kim-Putin summit is more than a bilateral meeting; it is a clarion call that heralds a new phase of global strategic realignment.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin had a summit meeting at the Vostochny Cosmodrome on June 19, 2024

In a world already on the brink of geopolitical upheaval, the recent summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin took place at the Vostochny Cosmodrome on June 19, 2024, is a sign of proactive changes in global politics. This meeting, full of military and technological exchanges, is more than just a diplomatic activity; it is a harbinger of further intensified rivalry and a potentially destabilised international order.

The main focus of the summit on military cooperation cannot be overstated. North Korea’s great need for advanced military technology, including surveillance satellites and nuclear submarines, finds a ready supplier in Russia. In contrast, North Korea appears ready to support Russia’s military operations in Ukraine with conventional weapons and artillery. This mutual agreement underscores a growing military axis that threatens not only regional stability in East Asia but also the broader global balance of power.

Bad Timing

The timing and symbolism of this summit are crucial. As the United States strengthens its trilateral cooperation with South Korea and Japan, the partnership between Russia and North Korea represents a deliberate counterweight. Kim Jong Un’s outspoken support for Russia’s stance against “hegemonic powers” – a thinly veiled reference to the United States — underscores the ideological and strategic divide that is increasingly polarizing the world. This realignment raises the spectre of a new era of bloc politics reminiscent of Cold War dynamics but with potentially more transformative consequences in the current global landscape.

In addition to the military sphere, the summit emphasised important economic and technological exchanges. Russia’s commitment to aid North Korea’s robust space programme and talk of joint ventures in tourism, construction and agriculture point to deeper economic interdependence. For North Korea, these ties are a lifeline between harsh international sanctions and economic isolation. For Russia, this partnership is a strategic tool to secure unwavering support and resources in compliance with its international sanctions and military commitments.

Serious Implications

The implications of this strengthened alliance are numerous. First, it calls into question the effectiveness of international sanctions regimes, as both countries find ways to avoid economic isolation through mutual support. Besides, the potential for joint military exercises and arms sales could encourage North Korean provocations and increase tensions on the Korean Peninsula and beyond.

Faheem ul Islam

Furthermore, the union is a sharp reminder of the limits of Western diplomatic and economic pressure. As Russia and North Korea strengthen their partnership, it is clear that a new, more aggressive form of multipolarity is emerging. Such alignment could lead to increasingly serious conflicts, as countries in these emerging factions defend their interests more boldly and with less respect for diplomatic decisions.

The Kim-Putin summit is more than a bilateral meeting; it is a clarion call that heralds a new phase of global strategic realignment. As a student of international politics, one must critically examine the broader implications of such alliances. The deepening of relations between Russia and North Korea indicates a change in global power structures with profound consequences for international stability and peace. This emerging partnership requires close monitoring and a robust response from the international community to reduce risks in an increasingly polarised and militarized world.

(The author, from Achan, Pulwama, is pursuing a PG in International Relations at Aligarh Muslim University. Ideas are personal)


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