March 25, 2023

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What Kim Jong-un sent to Vladimir Putin on the occasion of the Russian president’s birthday

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sent a birthday card to Russian President Vladimir Putin, congratulating him on “destroying the provocations and threats of the United States.”

As Russia’s isolation from its war in Ukraine has grown, relations with Pyongyang have deepened. On the part of North Korea, relations with Russia have not always been as close as they were during the time of the Soviet Union, but now the country is reaping clear benefits from Moscow’s need to have friends, writes

Communist North Korea was formed in the early days of the Cold War with the support of the Soviet Union. Subsequently, Pyongyang fought Seoul and its US and United Nations allies to a stalemate in the 1950-1953 Korean War, aided by China and the Soviet Union.

North Korea was heavily dependent on Soviet aid for decades, and when the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s, Pyongyang was starved.

Pyongyang’s leaders have tended to use Beijing and Moscow to balance each other. Kim Jong-un initially had a relatively cool relationship with both countries, which sided with the United States in imposing strict sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear tests.

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However, after North Korea’s last nuclear test in 2017, Kim took steps to mend ties.

In 2019, Kim and Putin met for the first time at a summit in the Russian city of Vladivostok.

Russia has since joined China in opposing new sanctions, used its veto in May and publicly divided the UN Security Council (UNSC) for the first time since it began punishing Pyongyang in 2006.

War support provided to Russia

North Korea offered its public support to Moscow after the Russian invasion launched in Ukraine. It was one of the only countries to recognize the independence of Ukraine’s separatist regions, and this week expressed support for Russia’s proclaimed annexation of parts of Ukraine.

Vadimir Putin and Kim Jong-un met in Vladivostok


“Moscow’s “special military operation” in Ukraine has ushered in a new geopolitical reality in which the Kremlin and (North Korea) could become ever closer, perhaps even to the point of reviving the quasi-alliance relationship that existed during of the Cold War,” said Artyom Lukin, a professor at the Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok.

It is worth noting that Pyongyang has started using the new phrase “tactical and strategic cooperation” to describe its relationship with Russia, he added.

The United States has announced that Russia has approached North Korea to buy millions of rounds of ammunition and other weapons to replenish its stockpile depleted by the war. Both Russia and North Korea have denied the accusation.

Economic ties

Most of North Korea’s trade goes through China, but Russia is a potential partner, particularly for oil supplies, experts said. Moscow has denied violating UN sanctions, but Russian oil tankers have been accused of helping to circumvent oil export limits to North Korea, and sanctions monitors have reported that North Korean workers have remained in Russia despite the ban.


Trade and human contact between the two countries came to an almost complete halt after the pandemic began and North Korea imposed strict border quarantines, at one point forcing Russian diplomats to push their luggage on handcarts to return. the home.

“There is reason to believe that at least some of the border restrictions on the North Korean side will begin to be lifted soon,” Lukin said, citing local government reports that train trade could soon be allowed.

Russian officials have openly discussed “cooperation for political arrangements” with the goal of employing between 20,000 and 50,000 North Korean workers, despite UN Security Council resolutions prohibiting such arrangements.

Russian officials and leaders in the separatist regions of Ukraine have also discussed the possibility of North Korean workers helping to rebuild those war-torn areas.

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