Opinion: Putin and Kim Jong Un alliance won’t spell doom for United States

Even before Russian President Vladimir Putin landed in Pyongyang for his first trip to North Korea in nearly a quarter century, foreign policy observers were pontificating about what Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un might have up their sleeves. Was the Putin-Kim summit an inflection point in the world order? Did the signing of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement mean that Moscow and Pyongyang were now officially allies? And if so, how should the United States react?

The commentary thus far has taken on an almost hysterical turn. Victor Cha, a former National Security Council director for Asian affairs, has alleged that Russia and North Korea are now embarking on “ a full-fledged military alliance” similar to what both countries had during the Cold War. President Joe Biden’s administration views the renewed Russia-North Korea partnership as an extremely dangerous arrangement that should be of concern to anybody who cares about stability on the Korean Peninsula or about saving Ukraine from Russian revanchism.

Some of these comments are justifiable. U.S. officials are right to raise concerns. But to be perfectly blunt, the sky isn’t falling.

A strategic path

First, it’s vital to understand why Putin and Kim have chosen the path they’re now on. For Russia, the calculations are relatively straightforward: Russian foreign policy is now dictated entirely by the ongoing war in Ukraine. Every move made on the international scene is motivated by one question: Does it help or hurt the war effort?

With respect to North Korea, the answer is lopsidedly in the “helps” column. North Korea has proved indispensable for Moscow at a time when the Russian army needs all the military aid it can get to maintain its lines during the upcoming summer fighting season. According to the U.S. State Department, North Korea has delivered 11,000 containers of munitions to Russia since September, a huge supplement to Russia’s own domestic military production. To the extent Putin can formalize this military-to-military cooperation, he is going to do it.

For North Korea, institutionalizing the strategic relationship with Russia offers several dividends. First, the North Koreans receive items, such as food aid, crude oil and natural gas that Kim needs in the immediate term or, in the case of Russian military technology, covets in order to ensure his military satellite program isn’t a bust. Second, by signing a deal with Moscow, the North Koreans are communicating to Washington, Seoul and Tokyo that their emerging trilateral relationship — one Pyongyang suspects is designed to stifle what little power it has — will have consequences.

Third and most notable over the long term, getting closer to Russia gives the Kim dynasty greater flexibility in the region by lessening its dependence on China. It’s no surprise that Beijing has been quite muted on the whole arrangement since it was consummated last month.

Mutual defense

Much has been made about the mutual defense provision in Putin and Kim’s partnership accord. Article 4 stresses that if either Russia or North Korea is subjected to armed aggression and finds itself in a state of war, “the other party shall immediately provide military …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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