South Korea Registers ‘Deep Concern and Disapproval’ Regarding Kim-Putin Military Collaboration Talks

by Andrew Wright
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Kim-Putin Military Talks

On Thursday, South Korea conveyed “serious apprehension and disapproval” concerning a recent meeting between North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The gathering was ostensibly aimed at bolstering military partnerships, as both countries face rising tensions with the United States.

Washington has cautioned that Wednesday’s summit between Kim and Putin could facilitate an agreement to provide ordnance for Russia’s ongoing conflict in Ukraine. In Seoul, there is considerable unease that North Korea may, in return, acquire sophisticated weapons technology from Russia, including capabilities linked to military reconnaissance satellites. This would amplify the risks associated with North Korea’s nuclear military program.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Lim Soo-suk, stated, “We express serious apprehension and disapproval over North Korea and Russia discussing military cooperation matters, including satellite development, during their summit, despite numerous admonitions from the global community.”

Lim further asserted that any scientific and technological collaborations contributing to the development of nuclear weaponry or missile systems, including satellite technologies incorporating ballistic missile capabilities, contravene United Nations Security Council resolutions.

He also highlighted that North Korea’s delegation in Russia consisted of several individuals who are under sanctions by the Security Council for their roles in unauthorized North Korean weapons development activities. These include Korean People’s Army Marshal Ri Pyong Chol and Jo Chun Yong, an official responsible for arms policies. Lim warned that such military collaboration would have “detrimental consequences” for Russia’s relations with South Korea.

South Korea’s Unification Minister Kim Yung-ho, who oversees North Korean affairs, cautioned that potential arms exchanges between Russia and North Korea would necessitate escalated responses from South Korea, the United States, and Japan. These countries have been amplifying their joint security measures in response to regional threats.

John Kirby, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, declared that North Korea would face repercussions if it supplied armaments to Russia. He emphasized that assisting Russia in causing harm to Ukrainian civilians would be met with appropriate action from the United States.

The official news agency of North Korea reported on Thursday that Kim Jong Un invited Putin to visit North Korea at a time convenient for the Russian leader, an invitation Putin accepted willingly.

President Putin informed Russian state television that Kim Jong Un plans to visit additional cities in Russia’s Far East, including Komsomolsk-on-Amur, where he will tour an aircraft manufacturing facility. The visit is expected to include stops at other establishments in Vladivostok as well.

During their assembly at Russia’s Far Eastern spaceport, Vostochny Cosmodrome, Kim pledged “complete and unconditional support” for Putin’s efforts to defend Russian sovereignty and interests, which many interpreted as an oblique reference to the Ukrainian conflict.

Analysts remain skeptical about whether Russia, traditionally protective of its advanced military technologies, would engage in a significant technology transfer to North Korea, particularly in exchange for a potentially limited munitions supply.

According to Putin, both nations are exploring cooperative endeavors in sectors such as transportation and agriculture, and Russia continues to provide humanitarian aid to its neighbor. Putin remained reticent on the subject of military collaboration but assured compliance with sanctions prohibiting arms acquisitions from North Korea.

The summit took place shortly after North Korea launched two ballistic missiles toward the sea, marking a continuation of provocative testing activities that have escalated since 2022. Kim appears to be exploiting the global focus on Ukraine to accelerate his weapons development agenda.

Contributions were made by reporters Litvinova in Tallinn, Estonia, Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul, South Korea; Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo; and Jim Heintz in Tallinn.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Kim-Putin Military Talks

What was the purpose of the meeting between Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin?

The meeting between Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin was apparently focused on expanding military cooperation between North Korea and Russia.

Why is South Korea expressing concern and regret over the Kim-Putin meeting?

South Korea is concerned that the military cooperation discussed in the meeting could lead to the supply of ammunition for Russia’s war in Ukraine. They are also worried that North Korea may receive advanced weapons technologies from Russia, including military spy satellites, which could enhance the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear program.

What is the stance of the United States regarding the Kim-Putin summit?

The United States has warned that the summit could result in an agreement to supply ammunition for Russia’s war in Ukraine. They have expressed concerns about potential arms deals between North Korea and Russia and have stated that North Korea would face consequences if it supplies arms to Russia.

Who are some of the sanctioned individuals from North Korea in the Russian meeting delegation?

The North Korean delegation in Russia included individuals who have been sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council over their involvement in illicit North Korean weapons development activities. Some of these individuals include Korean People’s Army Marshal Ri Pyong Chol and Jo Chun Yong, a ruling party official responsible for munitions policies.

What are the potential implications of military cooperation between North Korea and Russia?

The potential implications include the sharing of advanced military technologies, such as military spy satellites, and the enhancement of North Korea’s military capabilities. This could escalate tensions in the region and impact international relations between Russia, South Korea, the United States, and Japan.

What did Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin discuss during their meeting?

During their meeting, Kim Jong Un expressed “full and unconditional support” for Vladimir Putin in what he described as a “just fight against hegemonic forces to defend its sovereign rights, security, and interests,” which was interpreted as a reference to the war in Ukraine. They also discussed potential cooperative projects in transportation and agriculture.

How did the meeting location at the Vostochny Cosmodrome relate to the discussions?

The choice of the Vostochny Cosmodrome as the meeting location suggested that Kim Jong Un may seek Russian assistance in developing military reconnaissance satellites, which are crucial for enhancing the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear-capable missiles.

Did North Korea conduct any missile tests around the time of the Kim-Putin summit?

Yes, North Korea launched two ballistic missiles toward the sea shortly before or around the time of the summit, continuing a pattern of provocative testing activities that have escalated since 2022.

What is the overall international reaction to the Kim-Putin military cooperation talks?

The international reaction has been one of concern and caution, particularly from South Korea, the United States, and Japan. There are worries about the potential consequences of military collaboration between North Korea and Russia, especially in the context of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

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