HomeTop StoriesWhy Russia's failures in Ukraine could be a victory for North Korea

Why Russia’s failures in Ukraine could be a victory for North Korea

Russia’s battlefield failures in Ukraine could lead to a victory for North Korea.

That is the view of analysts who say a possible meeting between Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin could lead to Pyongyang getting its hands on the kind of weapons that 20 years of United Nations sanctions have denied it access to.

On Monday, the US National Security Council claimed arms negotiations between Russia and North Korea were “actively progressing” after Russian Defense Secretary Sergei Shoigu visited Pyongyang in July in an attempt to convince the country to sell artillery munitions to Moscow.

The US also believes that a meeting between Putin and Kim may take place in the near future.

Should this become a reality, such a meeting would come after more than a year and a half of war in Ukraine has left the Russian military battered, exhausted and in need of supplies.

It would also come after seventeen years of UN sanctions aimed at hindering North Korea’s ability to build a fully functioning nuclear and ballistic missile force.

“This [meeting] is a very important development if it continues,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. “Russia has the military technology Kim needs for his illegal satellite launches and nuclear weapons delivery programs.”

Despite UN sanctions, Kim has been developing his ballistic missile program at breakneck speed over the past two years. During that time, he tested dozens of missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that could theoretically launch a nuclear warhead over the US mainland.

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But doubts remain about the extent of the country’s capabilities.

“U.S. analysts and experts from other countries are still debating what nuclear payload North Korea’s ICBMs could carry, and it is still unclear whether the ICBMs are capable of surviving the return,” said a June report. 2022 from the Council on Foreign Relations.

If Kim were to get his hands on the technology of Russia, the decades-long world leader in nuclear missiles, it would be a major boost to his programs and a major concern for leaders in the West, analysts said.

Doo Jin-ho, a research fellow at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, said Russia could provide several things on North Korea’s wish list: reentry technology, improved submarine-launched ballistic missile launch capabilities, satellite reconnaissance capabilities and even help launching missiles. satellites. .

North Korea has attempted two satellite launches this year; both ended in failure.

Any deal between Pyongyang and Moscow could potentially include resources that Russia has in abundance but that North Korea lacks because of its long years of sanctions, said Carl Schuster, former director of operations at the US Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center.

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“North Korea needs cash, it needs food, it needs energy,” Schuster said.

Daniel Salisbury, visiting researcher at King’s College London, wrote in The Conversation this week that if Russia started buying North Korean weapons — ignoring UN sanctions that Moscow itself helped pass — other countries that had once imported military hardware from Pyongyang , like Iran, could follow suit.

The Russian purchases will undermine North Korea’s sanctions regime and help generate revenue for the Kim regime. It could also lead to a broader renaissance of the North Korean arms export enterprise,” Salisbury wrote.

Old friends

Any pact with Moscow would help Kim in a different way, said Schuster, a former U.S. Navy captain.

“This alliance makes him look less isolated and gives him and his inner circle a psychological boost,” Schuster said of the North Korean leader.

While military cooperation between Moscow and Pyongyang has a history dating back to Stalin’s support of Kim’s grandfather at the start of the Korean War in 1950, it has declined in recent years, especially as Russia, with veto power in the UN Security Council, provided support to military cooperation between Moscow and Pyongyang. the implementation of sanctions against North Korea.

Still, that long history means there are many similarities in their weapons stocks that could be useful to Russia.

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“North Korea makes what I call heavy industrial weapons,” Schuster said. “The artillery and ammunition are very good. It is very similar to Russian designs.”

Doo agreed, saying, “North Korea’s 52mm artillery ammunition and 122mm multiple rocket launcher ammunition can be used immediately on Russian weapons.”

But North Korean munitions wouldn’t be a game-changer for Russia, said Joseph Dempsey, a research associate for defense and military analysis at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

“This [arms] can help replenish depleted supplies and prolong the conflict, but will not change its direction,” he said.

Others questioned how quickly North Korean ammunition could get into the hands of Russian troops on the front lines in Ukraine.

Shipments from North Korea to Russian forces would have to cross the Trans-Siberian Railway, over 9,000 kilometers from Vladivostok in the east to Moscow in the west.

Much of the equipment on the railroad is from the late Cold War era and has been severely stressed, said Trent Telenko, a former quality controller for the US Defense Contract Management Agency who has studied Russian logistics.

“Overloading Cold War transportation is a seriously dumb idea on many levels. And that is exactly what the Russians are doing,” Telenko said.

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