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Putin and Kim Jong Un have new agreement: Its essence and how it will impact war in Ukraine

Putin and Kim Jong Un have new agreement: Its essence and how it will impact war in Ukraine Photo: Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang (

Russian President Vladimir Putin has entered into a strategic partnership agreement with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. While the text of the agreement is not yet available, many media outlets are discussing a military alliance, as the document reportedly includes mutual defense provisions.

Details on why Putin seeks an alliance with North Korea and its potential impact on the Russian-Ukrainian war will be covered in the RBC-Ukraine material.


What Putin and Kim Jong Un say

Putin arrived in the North Korean capital yesterday evening. Kim Jong Un greeted him by the plane's stairs, and the leaders walked down the red carpet, accompanied by an honor guard. The official meeting with a parade took place today.

Kim Jong Un called Putin's visit a "historic moment," confirming that relations between Moscow and Pyongyang are at their peak. Additionally, the North Korean leader reiterated support for Russia's war against Ukraine, calling it a defense of Russia's interests and territorial integrity.

Putin nostalgically recalled Soviet times, stating that the friendship between the countries "was forged under severe trials." He also mentioned the role of Soviet troops in the region during the end of World War II and the Korean War.

Following this, there were talks in an expanded format for an hour and a half, after which Putin and Kim Jong Un spoke face-to-face for another two hours. The result was the signing of a series of bilateral documents. The main one is a treaty on a comprehensive strategic partnership between Russia and North Korea.

"The comprehensive partnership agreement signed today provides, among other things, for mutual assistance in the event of aggression against one of the parties to this agreement," Putin stated.

У Путіна та Кім Чен Ина нова угода: у чому суть та як це вплине на війну в Україні

Photo: Negotiations between Putin and Kim Jong Un (

According to him, under the treaty, Russia "does not rule out military-technical cooperation" with North Korea. He criticized statements from the US and other Western countries regarding the supply of long-range weapons, F-16 aircraft, and other equipment to Ukraine. Additionally, he promised to work together with North Korea to counter international sanctions.

Putin considers the treaty a breakthrough document that reflects Moscow's and Pyongyang's plans to elevate relations to a higher level. According to him, the treaty sets long-term goals.

"This pertains to political, trade and investment, cultural, humanitarian and security spheres," he added.

In turn, Kim described the treaty as "the most powerful" and called Putin "the dearest friend of the Korean people." He noted that the document raises the level of "allied relations." According to him, the strategic partnership treaty is "strictly peace-loving and defensive."

"This powerful treaty is nothing more than a document of a truly constructive, promising, exclusively peace-loving and defensive nature, designed to protect and defend the basic interests of the peoples of the two countries," he emphasized.

According to him, the treaty allegedly reflects a change in the status of Russia and North Korea in global geopolitics. Putin added that today's meeting provides an impetus for creating mechanisms to reduce the impact of sanctions.

What could be in the new document

The new document replaces the 1961 Treaty of Friendship and Mutual Assistance, the 2000 Treaty of Friendship and Good Neighborliness, as well as the Moscow and Pyongyang Declarations of 2000 and 2001. As of the afternoon, details are not disclosed, and the text has not been published.

It's difficult to say what exactly is fixed in the treaty, but certain conclusions can be drawn based on the development of cooperation between the countries.

Relations between Russia and North Korea have significantly strengthened over the past year. Russia provides technology to North Korea's defense industry for satellite launches, development of naval forces, as well as material and food aid, among other things.

North Korea is arguably the only state that openly and directly supported Russia's war against Ukraine and supplies weapons on a large scale. Recently, South Korean Defense Minister Shin Won-sik stated that Pyongyang may have supplied up to 5 million shells and dozens of ballistic missiles.

"One could say that North Korea saved Russia, helped capture Avdiivka, and generally supported the offensive campaign during the winter and spring of 2024. Therefore, I believe the treaty will likely record positions on maximizing cooperation between the countries, especially in military and economic spheres," said Oleksandr Musiienko, Head of the Center of Military Law Researches.

У Путіна та Кім Чен Ина нова угода: у чому суть та як це вплине на війну в Україні

Photo: Putin and Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang (

Putin's statement regarding mutual assistance in case of aggression against one of the treaty participants effectively amounts to a declaration of creating a military alliance.

"This equates the level of relations to an alliance. This is a serious statement because alliances are formed, particularly in the event of war. I think he used this formulation consciously, and this is an escalation," emphasized the expert.

Based on this, it is logical that the treaty may include provisions for military assistance. It is entirely possible that this part will remain undisclosed.

"I do not exclude that certain parts may involve the participation of North Korean forces (in the war against Ukraine-ed.)," Musiienko told RBC-Ukraine, adding that previous agreements did not anticipate joint combat actions.

Military and political expert of the Information Resistance Group, Oleksandr Kovalenko, speculates that such a provision could indeed be in the treaty.

"Perhaps they (North Korean troops-ed.) will appear to gain some combat experience, but in small numbers. A few units for another 'meat grinder'. We're not talking about sending hundreds of thousands of special forces," he noted.

At the same time, he refrains from calling it a true military alliance. Previously, agreements involving the USSR, China, and North Korea did not culminate in anything global, and Russia did not derive any profit from them.

Why both leaders need a new treaty

Ahead of his visit, Putin published a laudatory article praising cooperation with North Korea. He highly praised Kim's dedication to his father's and grandfather's legacy and called Pyongyang a "steadfast ally." He also reaffirmed support for North Korea's fight against the United States.

According to analysts at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), these appeals to propaganda narratives create conditions for further requests from Putin for military assistance. Such requests could range from arms deliveries to sending North Korean workers to occupied territories in Ukraine.

Kovalenko believes that Putin's goal is not just to involve North Korean troops in the war against Ukraine but also to obtain not only shells and missiles but also military equipment.

"Russia faces significant problems, with its equipment depots nearly depleted. If the current intensity of combat continues, there will soon come a time when Russia will go into the red and won't be able to make up for its losses. One country that could transfer military equipment is North Korea," explained the expert.

As for Kim, this is primarily a reputational move. It's quite likely that North Korean state media will depict Putin as coming to beg for assistance and the "great leader" helping.

"Moreover, this is an opportunity to extract something new under certain conditions. It's a valuable currency, precious metals, even cryptocurrency, and much more. It's also a chance to expand the range of technologies that North Korea is interested in," added Kovalenko.

У Путіна та Кім Чен Ина нова угода: у чому суть та як це вплине на війну в Україні

Photo: Kim Jong Un may assist Russia with military technology in exchange for technologies and much more (

Oleksandr Musiienko does not doubt that Pyongyang will request aviation and intercontinental missile technologies so that North Korea can finally obtain a missile capable of reaching the USA. The question is how China will react: whether it will simply observe or take action. This is because traditionally North Korea falls within its sphere of influence.

"I think China is not very interested in strengthening Russia-North Korea cooperation. This is because it could lead to increased US and Western presence in the region, including measures targeted against Beijing. Whether this is true, we will see from actual actions. So far, we haven't heard about China's position, but I assume that at this stage they will limit themselves to tacit consent," added the expert.

Possible consequences for Ukraine and how the West should react

The US is already responding to Russia's approach to North Korea. Pentagon representative Pete Ryder stated that arms supplies are aiding Moscow in its war against Ukraine. Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised that Washington would do everything possible to halt North Korean support for Russia. British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps called Putin's visit a warning and added that "a new axis of tyranny is working to undermine our freedoms."

According to Musiienko, a few years ago there was a moment when the West could have "tempted" North Korea with economic preferences. However, the opportunity was not seized, and now it is difficult to say how arms supplies can be stopped.

"I see two ways. The first is to work with China to influence North Korea and Russia. The second is to provide Ukraine with more means to conduct counter-battery warfare to reduce the supply of shells to the front lines. Plus, blocking cooperation. Because before our eyes, an alliance is emerging, particularly against the West," he noted.

Regarding the potential threat of sending North Korean troops, Ukraine's partners should react more decisively.

"I have no doubt that most of our partners would be ready to deploy their troops in response. But this must be clearly declared," he said.

In any case, the treaty on strategic partnership between Russia and North Korea is bad news for Ukraine.

"Firstly, North Korea will continue to supply weapons and primarily ammunition. Secondly, it may start supplying equipment. But there are no limitless reserves there. And another point. If Russia can rake everything and fight to the last, Kim Jong Un is a paranoid who expects attacks from Japan, South Korea, and the US, and truly believes in it. Therefore, the supplies will be limited," added Oleksandr Kovalenko.

Sources: statements from Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un, Western politicians, the report from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), and comments from military experts Oleksandr Kovalenko and Oleksandr Musiienko.