Putin threatened to arm North Korea, escalating tensions with the West over Ukraine

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has directly warned the United States and its allies that he is ready to arm North Korea if it continues to supply Kyiv with sophisticated weapons that have attacked Russian territory , endangering Western powers supporting Ukraine.

Putin made the threat in comments to reporters traveling with him late Thursday in Vietnam before he flew back to Russia after a trip there and to North Korea. He had made a similar, albeit less public, threat a day earlier in Pyongyang, where he restore the Cold War-era mutual defense treaty with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The treaty requires each country to provide military support to the other “by all available means” in the event of an attack.

Mr. Putin issued a threat to arm Pyongyang, in violation of United Nations sanctions, as a response to decisions by the United States and its allies in recent months to allowing Ukraine to carry out certain attacks on Russian territory with its weapons. The White House made that decision last month, but maintained a ban on longer-range strikes deeper into the country that houses US weapons.

“Those who supply these weapons believe that they are not at war with us,” Mr. Putin said. “As I said, even in Pyongyang, we have the right to supply weapons to other parts of the world.”

“And where will they go next?” Putin asked about weapons, suggesting that North Korea could then sell Russian weapons to other rogue forces hostile to the United States and its allies around the world.

Although Mr. Putin did not say what weapons he would supply North Korea, Mr. Kim is looking to develop nuclear warheads, missiles, submarines and satellites – all areas in which Russia possesses some of the most complex and dangerous technology in the world. .

The Russian leader’s visit to Pyongyang underscored how the war in Ukraine has become the guiding principle of his foreign policy, overriding other priorities the Kremlin has pursued for years. . Washington and Seoul said North Korea sent dozens of ballistic missiles and more than 11,000 ammunition containers to Russia for use in the war against Ukraine, helping Mr. Putin overcome the ammunition shortage. Both Russia and North Korea deny any arms exchange in violation of United Nations sanctions.

For years, Russia has participated in efforts at the United Nations to limit Kim’s nuclear weapons and missile programs, passing resolution after resolution at the Security Council aimed at limiting His regime’s access to weapons, technology and resources. These restrictions come as North Korea conducts six nuclear tests and develops an intercontinental ballistic missile program.

But now Mr. Putin has The course has changed significantlyadvocated ending the very sanctions he approved, motivated by a desire to increase the cost to the United States of supporting Ukraine and Russia’s need for its vast arsenal of ammunition and conventional weapons of Korea for use on the battlefield.

“Here, the Westerners supply weapons to Ukraine and say ‘we don’t control anything here and it doesn’t matter how they are used,’” Mr. Putin said. “We can also say that we assigned something to someone and then we have no control over anything. Let them think about it.”

His restoration of the Cold War-era mutual defense commitment with North Korea and his suggestion that he might arm Kim’s regime, raised concerns in South Korea and Japanwhere tens of thousands of American soldiers are stationed at US bases.

South Korean officials said they would consider providing lethal weapons to Ukraine in response. Mr Putin warned them against such a decision in a speech on Thursday before leaving the region.

“This would be a very big mistake,” Mr. Putin said. “I hope this doesn’t happen. If this happens, we will also take appropriate measures, which is unlikely to satisfy South Korea’s current leadership.”

He said the mutual defense pact should not worry South Korea because it calls for Russian military intervention only in the event of aggression against North Korea, and as far as he knows, Seoul has no intention of intended to carry out such an attack. .

The Russian leader, who has made criticism of “sanctions strangulation” central to his international message, compared restrictions on North Korea to Nazi Germany’s siege of Leningrad. commune during World War II, causing the death of his brother, who had been surrounded by the Nazis. was one year old at that time.

Mr. Putin reiterated in his comments on Thursday that those sanctions need to be reevaluated, especially questioning those related to labor migration, saying that North Korean families cannot make money and feed their children.

“Does this remind you of anything?” Mr. Putin said, referring to World War II. “And is this humane?”

Mr. Putin’s trip to Pyongyang took place a few days after he made the announcement new needs end the war in Ukraine. He said he would agree to a ceasefire and participate in negotiations if Kiev withdraws its troops from four eastern Ukrainian regions that Moscow claims as its own and abandons its desire to join NATO. Russia never held the entire territory of those areas at any time during the war.

Ukraine and its Western allies immediately rejected the proposal as a demand for surrender and additional land for Ukraine, rather than an honest offer for negotiations.

In the days since, the Russian leader and his top lieutenants have urged the West to take the offer seriously and try to step up pressure, warning worse terms are to come and more dire conditions on the battlefield.

The Russian leader also announced that Moscow is considering changing its nuclear doctrine in response to new devices being developed by the West to lower the threshold for nuclear use. Russia possesses the world’s largest arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons, which have a lower yield and can be used in more limited battlefield situations.

Mr. Putin ordered his military to practice using such weapons earlier this year in response to Britain’s announcement that Ukraine could use its weapons to attack Russia and in response to a U.S. proposal. President Emmanuel Macron of France said that Western countries could send troops to Ukraine.

The Kremlin leader has regularly warned his Western enemies not to pursue Moscow’s “strategic failure” through its failure in the war against Ukraine – a message he reiterated on Thursday.

“This means the end of the 1,000-year history of the Russian state,” he said. “I think this is clear to everyone. And then the question arises: Why should we be afraid? Wouldn’t it be better to go all the way?”


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