Putin and Kim Jong Un sign historic mutual defense pact

Putin and Kim Jong Un sign historic mutual defense pact

In a significant geopolitical move, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a deal with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Wednesday that included a mutual defense pledge, marking one of Russia's boldest forays into Asia in recent years. The agreement overhauls Russia's entire post-Soviet policy toward North Korea as the United States and its Asian allies assess the depth of potential Russian support for the only nation to test nuclear weapons this century.

During his first visit to Pyongyang since 2000, Putin explicitly linked Russia's deepening ties with North Korea to the West's backing of Ukraine. He stated that Moscow could develop military and technical cooperation with Pyongyang. After their talks, the two leaders signed a "comprehensive strategic partnership" pact that Putin said included a mutual defense clause in case of aggression against either country.

"The agreement signed today provides, among other things, for mutual assistance in the event of aggression against one of the parties," Putin declared. He accused the West of breaching major agreements by providing advanced weaponry, including F-16 fighters, to Ukraine for strikes against Russia.

Kim praised Russia's move to support North Korea, casting it as an enormously significant strategic shift. Depending on the pact's exact wording, it could dramatically alter the strategic balance in Northeast Asia by placing Russia's weight behind North Korea, which faces the U.S.-backed South Korea across the heavily fortified demilitarized zone (DMZ).

The U.S. State Department expressed concern over the deepening Russia-North Korea cooperation, stating it undermines peace, non-proliferation efforts, and UN resolutions while supporting Russia's actions in Ukraine.

During the summit, Putin was greeted by cheering crowds in Pyongyang and exchanged limousine rides with Kim. He accused the U.S., South Korea, and Japan of raising tensions on the peninsula and said North Korea had the right to strengthen its defenses. Kim called the pact "strictly peace-loving and defensive" and said relations had been elevated to an "alliance" level.

Both leaders expressed firm support for each other's policies, including Russia's war in Ukraine and North Korea's stance against the West. Putin thanked Kim for his "unwavering support" amid unprecedented Western sanctions over the Ukraine invasion.

The warming Russia-North Korea ties have raised concerns about potential weapons transfers and support for Pyongyang's banned missile and nuclear programs, though both nations have denied such allegations.

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