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New Russia-North Korea defense deal could create friction with China - US general

New Russia-North Korea defense deal could create friction with China - US general Leader of China Xi Jinping (photo: Getty Images)

The new agreement on strategic partnership signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin with his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong Un could potentially cause friction between North Korea and China, which has long been the country's main ally, states Air Force General C.Q. Brown, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"We've got someone else who's kind of nudging in now, so that may drive a little bit more friction between (China) and Russia. So it'll be interesting to see how these three countries -- how this plays out," the general told journalists during a foreign meeting.

Brown acknowledged the concern over the agreement from the US side, but he also tempered his assessment, noting the apparent limitations of the agreement and expressing doubts that Moscow would give North Korea everything it wants.

"The feedback I have on the agreement - it was a broad agreement that's not overly binding, which gives you an indication (that) they want to work together but they don't want to get their hands tied," Brown said.

During his visit to North Korea, Putin and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un signed a comprehensive strategic partnership agreement, which provides for immediate mutual assistance in case of aggression against either country.

After North Korea, Putin flew to Vietnam. There he stated that he could not rule out providing North Korea with precision weapons in response to Western military aid to Ukraine. Putin is also considering changing Russia's nuclear doctrine in response to alleged discussions in the West about lowering the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons and developing less powerful weapons.

The Institute for the Study of War considers this statement by Putin a direct threat of nuclear weapon use if the West allows Ukraine to win the war. However, analysts believe it is highly unlikely that this threat will lead to actual nuclear escalation.