Putin Makes First Visit to North Korea in 24 Years

Russia and North Korea reached a new agreement last week during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s first visit to Pyongyang in 24 years.

The two leaders signed the new partnership agreement on June 19 that pledges mutual military assistance if either country faces “aggression.”

Under the agreement, if either Russia or North Korea is invaded or otherwise pushed into war, the other country must use “all means at its disposal without delay” to provide military assistance and other aid.

Both Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un described the partnership as a major boost in bilateral relations that, in addition to mutual military assistance, included trade, investment, and increasing humanitarian and cultural ties.

Last week’s summit comes as Washington and its allies expressed concern over a possible arrangement between North Korea and Russia for Pyongyang to supply Moscow with much-needed ammunition for its war with Ukraine in exchange for the transfer of advanced technology to boost Kim’s missile and nuclear weapons programs.

After the summit, Kim said Russia and North Korea shared a “fiery friendship” and described the partnership agreement as their strongest treaty ever that would elevate their relationship to that of an alliance. Kim also vowed North Korea’s full support for Russia’s war in Ukraine.

President Putin described the agreement as a “breakthrough document” that reflected the two countries’ desire to take their relations to the next level.

During a press briefing in Seoul last Thursday, Defense Ministry spokesman Lee Hyung-ho told reporters that South Korean officials were still considering the outcome of the summit, including questions such as how Russia might respond if North Korea came under attack or whether the agreement offered the same level of protection included in the 1961 treaty signed between North Korea and the former Soviet Union.

Following the summit in Pyongyang, President Putin traveled to Vietnam where he met with President To Lam and Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and signed a deal to expand cooperation between the two countries on oil and gas exploration, science and technology, education, and health.