Sunday, May 19, 2024

US claims Russia ties embolden North Korea

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has raised the alarm over North Korea’s increasing strategic cooperation with Russia. He stated the burgeoning alliance has boosted leader Kim Jong-un’s confidence.

Austin made his comments in testimony to the US House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. Ties between Moscow and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) have deepened since Kim traveled to Russia last September for talks with President Vladimir Putin. The Russian and North Korean defense chiefs met last July in Pyongyang.

“North Korea, again, it’s becoming more confident because of its affiliation with Putin,” Austin told lawmakers.

He also cited expanding cooperation between Russia, North Korea, Iran and the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

“This is very concerning: something that we are going to have to watch, something that we are going to have to make sure that we have the capability and capacity to work with our allies to continue to deter and continue to promote peace and stability in each of the regions,” Austin stated.

He added, “The growing nexus between the PRC, Russia, the DPRK and Iran is concerning, and this is something that we are watching very closely.”

US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Charles Brown agreed, saying threats posed by Russia, China, North Korea and Iran are “interconnected”.

Austin also claimed Russia turned to the DPRK for additional artillery shells and other munitions to replenish its stockpiles in the Ukraine conflict. North Korean and Russian officials have denied accusations of arms transfers from Pyongyang. They have also accused the US and its Northeast Asian allies of worsening tensions in the region by preparing for war with the DPRK.

North Korea has ramped up missile tests since the Russia-Ukraine conflict began in February 2022, and it has ruled out the possibility of reunifying with South Korea. The North Korean Foreign Ministry said increasing cooperation with Russia would help defend the “core interests” of the two countries and help establish a “multi-polarized international order”.

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