February 18, 2015

Moscow and Pyongyang: From Disdain to Partnership?

By Richard Weitz

A few weeks ago, the Foreign Ministry of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) said that Moscow and Pyongyang planned to “deepen political, economic and military contacts and exchanges” this year. The two governments have recently launched new economic projects and partnerships to expand bilateral and regional transportation and investment. Last year, more senior North Korean leaders visited Russia than any other country. In the coming months, Russian President Vladimir Putin could become the first foreign leader to meet with Kim Jong-un, the reclusive leader of the DPRK, who Russia says has accepted Putin’s invitation to visit Moscow in May.

If Kim does come, it will mark the culmination of the growing, high-level interaction between the two governments. In February 2014, Kim Yong-nam, chairman of the Presidium of the DPRK’s Supreme People’s Assembly, attended the opening of the Olympic Games in Sochi. The following month, the Russian minister of Development for the Far East, Alexander Galushka, visited North Korea with Rustam Minnihanov, the president of the Russian Republic of Tatarstan. From April 28-30, Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Trutnev, also the presidential envoy for the Far Eastern Federal District, spent three days in North Korea along with the governors of Russia’s far eastern provinces of Amursky, Khabarovsky and Primorsky. In September and October, Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong spent ten days in Moscow and in Russia’s Far East negotiating various economic deals, with a focus on the agricultural sector.

Read the full op-ed at The Diplomat.

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