Russia: The great powers are "suffocating" North Korea

Moscow dealt a blow to the implementation of sanctions against Pyongyang and rewarded Kim Jong Un for his support amid the war in Ukraine

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Kim and Putin in the Amur region of Russia in September 2023, Photo: Reuters
Kim and Putin in the Amur region of Russia in September 2023, Photo: Reuters
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

Russia said yesterday that major powers need a new approach to North Korea, accusing the United States and its allies of increasing military tensions in Asia and seeking to "strangle" the isolated country.

Russia has vetoed the annual renewal of the multinational panel of experts, which for the past 15 years has overseen the implementation of United Nations sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

Moscow's move to deal a blow to the implementation of a number of UN sanctions imposed after Pyongyang conducted its first nuclear test in 2006 is Kim Jong Un's reward for rapprochement with President Vladimir Putin amid the war in Ukraine, according to Reuters.

"Russia's vote, along with its flagrant violation of sanctions by purchasing conventional weapons from North Korea, years of ignoring their commitments, and even tacit support from China, points to a bleak future for the sanctions regime against North Korea," said Aaron Arnold, a former member of the panel who now works as a sanctions expert at the British research institute RUSI.

China, North Korea's only military ally and its biggest trading partner, was restrained. Beijing and Moscow have denied violating sanctions, but have blocked new measures in the UN Security Council and pushed for the lifting of some of the existing sanctions against Pyongyang.

"It is obvious to us that the UN Security Council can no longer use the old templates regarding the problems of the Korean Peninsula," said the spokeswoman of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Maria Zakharova.

She said that the US is fueling military tensions, that international restrictions have not improved the security situation, and that the population of North Korea (DPRK) is suffering severe humanitarian consequences.

"The US and its allies have clearly shown that their interest does not go beyond the task of 'strangulating' the DPRK with all available means, and a peaceful solution is not on the agenda at all," said Zaharova.

Russia's ambassador to the UN, Vasiliy Nebenzja, criticized the work of the experts, saying before the vote that their reports amounted to "playing into the hands of Western approaches, reprinting biased information and analyzing newspaper headlines and photos of poor quality."

Vasilij Nebenzja at the UN headquarters in New York
Vasilij Nebenzja at the UN headquarters in New Yorkphoto: Reuters

The US State Department said on Thursday that Russia's veto "cynically undermined international peace and security" and accused Moscow of trying to cover up reports by a panel of experts about its own "collusion" with North Korea to obtain weapons.

Russia's veto will encourage North Korea to engage in reckless behavior and destabilizing provocations, and reduce the prospects for lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.

Reuters writes that the Russian veto is interpreted as a major turning point in the regime of international sanctions against North Korea, which was formed in 1948 with the support of the then Soviet Union, while the Republic of Korea was supported by the United States.

The veto illustrates how much the war in Ukraine has undermined major power cooperation on other major global issues

North Korea is the only country to have conducted nuclear tests in the 21st century - in 2006, 2009, 2013, twice in 2016 and 2017, according to the United Nations.

Russia announced that the work of the experts was neither objective nor impartial and that they had turned into an "obedient tool of the DPRK's geopolitical opponents."

The veto illustrates how the war in Ukraine, which has caused the deepest crisis in Russia's relations with the West since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, has undermined major power cooperation on other major global issues, according to Reuters.

Since Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Moscow has gone out of its way to demonstrate a revival of its relations, including military ties, with Pyongyang.

Washington claims that North Korea supplied Russia with the missiles it is using against Ukraine, which the Kremlin and Pyongyang deny.

For Putin, who says Russia is locked in an existential struggle with the West over Ukraine, wooing Kim allows him to prop up Washington and its Asian allies while providing a large stockpile of artillery for the Ukraine war, according to Reuters.

For Kim, who has vowed to speed up nuclear weapons production to deter what he sees as US provocations, Russia is a major power ally with a rich stockpile of advanced missile, military, space and nuclear technology.

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