Fri. Jul 12th, 2024

Russia’s war in Ukraine has come at a great time for North Korea. While the U.S. would like the United Nations to punish the North with more severe sanctions for any and all intercontinental ballistic missile tests, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un can play up his great relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and be sure that Russia will block any such move.

On April 25, 2019, Kim and Putin met in Vladivostok, Russia’s far eastern port city. Since then, they appear to have been on better terms than ever, thanks to North Korea’s total support for the invasion of Ukraine.

Now it’s time for Putin to repay Kim for his rhetorical loyalty with the aid he badly needs. Putin could begin by providing North Korea with heavy weapons and spare parts. A top priority for North Korea is to repair and/or replace all those MiGs and other fighters, bombers and transport aircraft bequeathed Kim’s grandfather, dynasty founder Kim Il Sung, by the Soviet regime after the North Koreans invaded South Korea in June 1950.

The breakup of the Soviet empire in 1991 ended the flow of aid from the former USSR into North Korea. The most immediate effect was that Russia ceased accepting near-worthless North Korean currency as payment for a wide range of goods desperately needed to shore up the impoverished North Korean economy. Quickly, North Korea plunged into such dire poverty that as many as 2 million people starved to death or died from disease during what North Korea officially calls the “arduous march” of the 1990s.


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