U.S. Expresses Concerns Over Warming Relations Between Russia and North Korea

Credits: CNN

In recent times, Washington’s North Korea observers have been captivated by the abrupt demolition of a significant monument in Pyongyang dedicated to the reunification of the Korean Peninsula.

This act, perceived by some external analysts as a potential precursor to conflict with South Korea, has fueled speculations amid the customary bellicose rhetoric from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

However, insiders from US officials and North Korea analysts, speaking on the condition of anonymity to CNN, reveal that the focus on the reunification arch may be diverting attention from a more pressing strategic concern: North Korea’s growing alliance with Russia.

Russian and North Korean President (Credits: Euronews.com)

Intelligence officials in Washington are increasingly alarmed by the deepening ties between North Korea and Russia, foreseeing potential long-term implications of this emerging strategic partnership.

Multiple officials familiar with the latest intelligence report a rising apprehension in Washington over Russia’s recurrent use of North Korean-supplied short-range ballistic missiles against Ukrainian targets in recent weeks.

In a noteworthy development, high-ranking diplomats from North Korea and Russia convened in Moscow in January, paving the way for what North Korean state media suggests will be a visit to Pyongyang by Russian President Vladimir Putin himself—the first in over two decades.

The Biden administration has shown sufficient concern about this burgeoning alliance to prompt National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan to address the issue during a January meeting with the Chinese foreign minister. A senior White House official disclosed this to reporters, emphasizing the gravity of the situation.

The apprehension among officials is rooted in the fear that if North Korea strengthens its ties with Russia, it could potentially diminish China’s influence over the reclusive nation.

This, in turn, raises concerns that the perceived restraint that China has exercised on North Korea’s nuclear testing program may be weakened.

A senior defense official remarked, “I think [Kim] is constantly looking for some kind of an edge,” highlighting the strategic calculations at play.

The Biden administration has echoed these sentiments, expressing deep concern over recent weapon testing and the growing rapport between Russia and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Noted North Korea expert Jeffrey Lewis, a professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, provides insights into Pyongyang’s historical approach of balancing Chinese influence by engaging in dialogues with other nations, including the Soviet Union and the United States.

According to Lewis and others, North Korea’s newfound transactional partnership with Moscow can be best interpreted as Kim seizing an opportunity to create diplomatic maneuvering space with China.

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