North Korea and Russia, a worrying nuclear axis
Russia approves North Korea’s repeated missile launches and ballistic tests, Kim Jong-un writes letter to Vladimir Putin in which solidarity is said “against the threats posed by hostile forces”. The alignment between Russia and North Korea is growing, in a particularly dangerous contingency. Not only for the war in Ukraine but also in Asia-Pacific between the inauguration of the new president of South Korea, conservative and considered a hawk on inter-Korean relations, and the upcoming visit of Joe Biden between Seoul and Tokyo in view of the Quad summit.
It is a nuclear axis that is not a little disturbing. After the launch of the ballistic missile a few days ago, the director of the department of international organizations of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Petr Ilyichev, said the West should “go to meet” Pyongyang. “We and China have clearly stated that the time of pressure with sanctions is over,” Ilychev added.
A few days later, the amorous response arrives in a big way, with the North Korean supreme leader sending a congratulatory message to the Russian president, expressing his “firm solidarity” with Russia against the “hostile forces”. Sent on the anniversary of the victory in World War IIthe message was later disseminated by the North Korean agency Kcna, relaunched by the South Korean Yonhap.
Kim congratulated Putin on the anniversary and expressed “firm solidarity with the cause of the Russian people in eradicating political and military threats and blackmail by hostile forces and safeguarding the country’s dignity, peace and security”. The message also “expressed the belief that traditional and strategic relationships between the two countries they will constantly develop in accordance with what is required by the times “.
Why Putin and Kim Jong-un are getting closer now
It is not the first time that Pyongyang has emphasized close relations with Moscow after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In February, the Pyongyang Foreign Ministry attributed the crisis to the “hegemonic politics” of the United States. But now, of course, the fear that tensions could spread further increases. Also because in recent days South Korea has become the first Asian country to enter the NATO structure dedicated to cybersecurity and based in Tallinn, Estonia.
This is not a sudden move. The Korean government had submitted its application for membership in 2019 and is participating with its intelligence services in cybersecurity exercises from 2020. But the timing of the announcement inevitably generates controversy and additional tension. The most threatening, as has often happened to him, was Hu Xijin. “If South Korea chooses a path that turns it hostile towards its neighbors, the end of that path could be Ukraine,” the former Global Times editor tweeted. The North Korean media Uriminzokkiri instead defined Yoon Suk-yeol an “American lackey“and” madness “his declared intention to strengthen the alliance with the United States.
Perhaps for this very reason, when he took office the new South Korean president partially revised the tones he had instead used extremely harsh during the electoral campaign. The president emphasized the values of “freedom” and “sustainable peace”, and said he was ready for dialogue with North Korea, despite the recent ballistic tests carried out by Pyongyang: “Although North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic programs pose a threat not only to us, but also to Northeast Asia as a whole, the door to dialogue remains open, in the hope of resolving this threat peacefully ”.
Yoon added that “If North Korea sincerely embarks on a path of complete denuclearization, we are ready to work with the international community to present a bold plan that will enormously strengthen North Korea’s economy and improve the quality of life of its people ”. The tones are very different from those used in the months preceding the electoral victory, when the president in pectore had lashed out against Moon Jae-in for his too conciliatory approach.
But many analysts believe that Kim is even preparing an atomic test. In recent weeks, several satellite images have shown that the Punggye-ri site, the site of nuclear tests that had raised concerns about a conflict in 2017, has been restored. Knowing that Pyongyang also has the blessing of Moscow certainly does not help to calm people.
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