Pyongyang summit: what are Putin and Kim planning?

The Russian president Vladimir Putin visited the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Wednesday. In Pyongyang they signed a "partnership deal" on close cooperation and pledging mutual defense assistance. The extent to which military-technical cooperation is written into the agreement, however, remains unclear.

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Echo (RU) /

Putin risks stepping on Beijing's toes

Although this is a move against the West, Moscow's alliance with North Korea risks compromising its position in the East, political scientist Vladimir Pastukhov explains in a Telegram post republished by Echo:

“Russia is not moving eastwards with an independent strategic agenda but with the aim of 'messing with' the West. If Europe cannot be hijacked, then it can be 'hassled' in the east. The weakness of this strategy is that the East is a delicate matter. North Korea may not be able to deal with two strategic partners at once. If Moscow now gets on too well with Pyongyang it could inadvertently step on Beijing's toes, which is a risky business in Putin's situation.”

Diena (LV) /

Mockery is out of place

Diena stresses the seriousness of the situation:

“Ironic remarks about the dreams of two dictators are out of place here. North Korea is probably the most militarised country in the world. Its military-industrial complex produces artillery and missile systems (as well as projectiles and rockets) on a large scale even by USSR standards. How much of this is already going to Russia, and what will continue to go there to support Russia's aggression in Ukraine naturally won't be revealed publicly, but there's no doubt that it will be a lot. ... The agreement with Pyongyang officially makes Moscow a major power both on the Korean peninsula and in the entire region.”

Politiken (DK) /

Axis of evil becomes reality

For Politiken the meeting is bad news:

“From a purely military and geopolitical standpoint there is every reason to be concerned about the summit and the tightening relations between Russia and North Korea. Just as it was with the way Russia cemented ties with Iran, which is making mass sales of drones to Putin. The axis of evil, which George W. Bush spoke about in his day, is becoming a dangerous reality. Even from the sidelines with the help of a cynical China, which backs everything that could damage the West.”

Le Monde (FR) /

Under close observation

Le Monde sees cause for concern:

“In exchange for opening the arsenals of his barracks-like country - mainly to supply grenades and ballistic missiles or manpower, which is slowly beginning to dwindle in Russia after successive waves of mobilisation - Kim Jong-un could receive crucial food aid as well as Russian expertise in military satellites. ... Western countries are not the only ones keeping close tabs on Vladimir Putin's trip. ... China does not necessarily look favourably on a cooperation that could allow North Korea to free itself in part from its dependence on Beijing - and thus become even more unpredictable.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Things can get even more dangerous

The Süddeutsche Zeitung warns:

“Kim Jong-un will not hand over the weapons as a gesture of goodwill. He is probably interested in Russian technology, in particular missile technology. North Korea has shown that it can build nuclear warheads. What it has not shown is whether it can also mount and launch them on intercontinental missiles. Russia has this technology. If it were to secretly hand it over to North Korea it would pose a huge threat - including the proliferation of nuclear weapons. No danger is so great that it cannot be increased by the combined fantasies of two dictators.”

Postimees (EE) /

Russia knocking at North Korea's door

Putin's visit to North Korea is nothing short of a humiliation, security expert Rainer Saks explains in Postimees:

“North Korea and Russia have swapped roles. Putin is presenting the situation in an extreme way and simplifying strategic goals so as to create the impression that his visit to North Korea is part of a larger global policy. However it is not simply organised to disconcert the West. The media campaign has been orchestrated to disguise the humiliating situation for Russia that it needs to trade with North Korea to secure new supplies of military aid.”

Andrey Zubov (RU) /

Isolated and steeped in Juche

Historian Andrey Zubov comments on Facebook on the North-Koreanisation of Russia:

“We are all responsible for the situation in Russia today. Gorbachev gave us a chance. Yeltsin didn't stop us from becoming citizens although he also didn't exactly help much. But we squandered the opportunity. And now our people are thoroughly steeped in Juche [the North Korean state ideology]. We chose this path ourselves, because we were unwilling to liberate ourselves from the Soviet mentality in the 90s and noughties. If we still want this after Putin is entirely up to us. But we now know what the price is for political apathy and civic paralysis: on the outside, a war with the whole world, and on the inside, Juche.”

Polityka (PL) /

Giving Lukashenka a run for his money

Polityka looks across Russia to its border in the west:

“There's someone else who is no doubt watching the footage from Pyongyang with concern and a lump in his throat. Namely Alexander Lukashenka, the Belarusian usurper president who is involved in the invasion of Ukraine and regularly tries to demonstrate his adoration for Putin by giving the Kremlin ruler almost anything he desires. It seems that Lukashenka now has a serious rival on the other side of Russia: because he can never surpass Kim's hypocritical sycophancy.”