Russia and North Korea sign mutual defense pact

What happened

Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed an agreement Wednesday pledging some sort of mutual assistance if either country faced foreign “aggression.” The pledge appears to be the strongest since the collapse of the Soviet Union ended a 1961 pact that required Moscow to step in if North Korea were attacked.

Who said what

Kim said the agreement, signed during Putin’s first visit to North Korea since 2000, was the “strongest treaty ever” between Moscow and Pyongyang. Putin said the “breakthrough” pact “does not exclude the development of military-technical cooperation” — a statement analysts said could mean he will reward Kim’s flow of munitions for the Ukraine invasion by helping to improve North Korea’s nuclear missiles and other advanced weapons.

The scope of the agreement was unclear. South Korean analyst Cheong Seong Chang told The Associated Press it appears the two hermit states have “completely restored their Cold War-era military alliance.” Moscow and Pyongyang are declaring a “de facto alliance,” Hudson Institute security analyst Patrick Cronin said to The Wall Street Journal, but “there is nothing fundamentally new about this relationship today that was not true before Putin’s visit.”

What next?

Putin arrived in Vietnam on Thursday to bolster ties with Moscow’s longtime ally and demonstrate the “diplomatic support Russia still enjoys in the region,” the BBC said. 

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  Crossword: June 13, 2024

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