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    Putin and Kim Jong Un’s wartime pact sees the two autocrats one step closer to creating a world ‘safe for authoritarians,’ expert says

    Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un after a signing ceremony following their bilateral talks at Kumsusan state residence in Pyongyang, on June 19, 2024.

    KRISTINA KORMILITSYNA/Getty Images

    Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un signed a partnership agreement on Wednesday.The two allied countries — and global pariahs — have several overlapping interests.The agreement officializes several informal aspects of Russia and North Korea’s relationship. 

    Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed a strategic partnership agreement this week, capitalizing on the two autocratic leaders’ overlapping interests — chief among them the desire for a more authoritarian world.

    For the first time in 24 years, Putin visited North Korea on Wednesday, where he and Kim signed an agreement that requires the allied countries to defend each other in the event of aggression, according to Russian state media outlet TASS news.

    The political pact also deepens the “political, trade, investment, cultural, and humanitarian” ties between Russia and North Korea, as well as their shared security sphere, the outlet reported.

    “Moscow and Pyongyang are authoritarians and want to live in a world safe for authoritarians,” said Simon Miles, an assistant professor at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy and a historian of the Soviet Union and US-Soviet relations.

    While the agreement’s text has not been made public yet, the pact appears to officialize several already-existing, informal aspects of Russia and North Korea’s relationship, Miles said.

    Since invading Ukraine in February 2022, Russia has been a major beneficiary of North Korea’s defense sector, buying up millions of Pyongyang’s cheap shells, according to Ukraine, the US, and the UN. North Korean ammunition is typically lower quality, but the sheer number of shells the country has reportedly provided continues to make a massive difference for Russia in the current positional warfare phase of the battle, Miles said.

    That informal partnership goes both ways. North Koreans have happily consumed discounted Russian oil — even in the face of UN sanctions on the commodity. The nuclear nation would also be “very happy” with access to Russia’s more sophisticated military technology, which could help enhance North Korea’s arsenal, according to Miles.

    The two global outcasts staged a full spectacle to celebrate the agreement — which included Putin gifting Kim yet another luxury vehicle — in a clear attempt at controlling the narrative.

    “Both want to show that they are not diplomatic pariahs,” Miles said. “The way this has been propagandized by both sides as proof their respective leader is an international statesman is not surprising, even if it is bizarre.”

    Though Russia and North Korea remain on the outskirts of global diplomacy, the pact appears to have Western officials at least somewhat concerned.

    US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday accused Russia of trying “in desperation, to develop and to strengthen relations” with countries like North Korea that will help fuel its war effort.

    Meanwhile, US intelligence officials told NBC News that the Biden administration is worried North Korea could soon develop its first nuclear-armed submarine with Russia’s help.

    Read the original article on Business Insider

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