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White House: Putin’s North Korea visit aimed at building a coalition

A senior White House official has warned that Russia is seeking to form an alliance with pariah nations like North Korea, Iran, and Syria as it faces isolation over its invasion of Ukraine.
putin in North Korea june 2024
Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in North Korea on 18 June for a state visit, the first in 24 years. Credit: AP
White House: Putin’s North Korea visit aimed at building a coalition

The senior director for Europe at the White House National Security Council, Michael Carpenter, argues that Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s visit to North Korea signifies Russia’s desire to assemble a coalition with other countries, including North Korea, Iran, Syria, and to some extent, China.

On 18-19 June, Putin visited North Korea for the first time in 24 years. He traveled to Pyongyang at the invitation of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and relations between the two countries were strengthening following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The two leaders signed a strategic partnership treaty during Putin’s visit.

The visit comes amid reports that North Korea began large-scale supplies of weapons and ammunition to Russia for use in the war against Ukraine in 2023, a violation of international sanctions that Russia is obligated to comply with.

According to the White House official, “This will not help Russia in its confrontation with the entire democratic world, which continues to provide robust support to Ukraine.”

“As for Putin’s meeting with Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang and all the pomp and circumstance reflecting the totalitarian nature of the North Korean regime, it is clearly about expanding the partnership,” Carpenter said.

He added that Russia’s closest partners in the world have become North Korea, Iran, Syria, and China, which, while not providing Russia with weapons, is sending a lot of dual-use products for the production of advanced weapons systems.

Carpenter specifies that these include nitrocellulose for manufacturing gunpowder, optics, and machine tools for the Russian military-industrial complex, “which increases the threat to Ukraine, as well as to European security.”

“This is, broadly, the coalition that Russia is assembling. But compare it to the coalition of 50 countries in the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, and then to the roughly 100 countries that supported the principles of the UN Charter in Switzerland, and you’ll see a stark contrast,” Carpenter states.

Putin and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un signed a comprehensive strategic partnership treaty, which provides for mutual assistance in case of aggression against either state.

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