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Seoul spy agency says Russia likely suggested North Korea take part in three-way exercises with China

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Russia has likely proposed that North Korea participate in triple naval exercises with China, according to a lawmaker who attended a closed-door briefing Monday with the director of South Korea’s top spy agency.

The briefing came days after Russia’s ambassador to North Korea, Alexander Matsegora, told Russian media that involving North Korea in joint military exercises between Russia and China “seems appropriate.” Matsegora added that it was his own position and that he was not aware of any preparations, according to the Russian news agency Tass.

According to lawmaker Yoo Sang-bum, Kim Kyou-hyun, director of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, said Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu likely suggested holding trilateral naval exercises with North Korea and China while he Korea met. leader Kim Jong-un in July.

Kim Jong-un invited Shoigu to a major military parade in Pyongyang in July while pledging to expand military cooperation with Moscow, which US officials say could involve North Korean artillery and other munitions supplies, now that the Russian president Vladimir Putin asks other countries for support. his war against Ukraine. Last week, the White House said Kim and Putin exchanged letters as Moscow looked to Pyongyang for more munitions.

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Amid rising nuclear tensions with Washington, Seoul and Tokyo, Kim Jong Un has sought to raise the profile of his partnerships with Moscow and Beijing as he seeks to break diplomatic isolation and make Pyongyang part of a united front against the United States . States.

Diplomacy between Pyongyang and Washington has stalled since 2019 over disagreements over crippling US-led sanctions against North Korea and the North’s faltering moves to scale back its nuclear and missile program.

In the briefing, service director Kim Kyou-hyun also said North Korea’s recent testing activities suggest its warplanes depended heavily on its tactical nuclear systems as it aims to win a quick victory over the South if war breaks out. , since otherwise the country is bad. According to MP Yoo, an equipped army would struggle to face a protracted war.

Kim has used the international focus on Russia’s war against Ukraine to ramp up his weapons demonstrations, which have included more than 100 missile launches since early 2022. Kim’s testing period was interrupted by verbal threats of pre-emptive nuclear strikes against South Korea and other rivals if the North deems his leadership threatened.

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