Putin starts visits to North Korea, Vietnam amid West’s attention
Trip a move by Russia to break Western isolation: observer
Published: Jun 18, 2024 11:48 PM
Russia and North Korea Photo: VCG

Russia and North Korea Photo: VCG

Russian President Vladimir Putin started his visits to two Asian countries on Tuesday, which according to analysts will attract intensive attention from the US and the West as they may potentially impact the regional geopolitical landscape.

Putin kicked off his state visit to North Korea on Tuesday after last visiting the country about 24 years ago, with Western media outlets paying close attention to the potential cooperation between the two countries that is likely to impact the geopolitical landscape and the strategic interests of the US-led West. 

Chinese analysts said it is a "rational choice" for Moscow and Pyongyang to move closer, as the long-standing strategy of the US and its allies to isolate and suppress the two countries will automatically push them to work together to deal with the common threat from US-led alliances, whether in Europe or Northeast Asia. Russia-North Korea cooperation will surely add to the headaches of decision makers in the White House, experts noted. 

Putin has accepted the proposal of the Russian Foreign Ministry to sign a strategic partnership agreement with North Korea, according to the relevant decree published on the official legal information portal on Tuesday, the Russian media Sputnik reported.

"To accept the proposal of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, agreed with interested federal government bodies and organizations, to sign a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement between Russia and North Korea. To allow the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, during negotiations on the signing of the said treaty, to make changes to its draft that are not of a fundamental nature," the document read.

Moscow will continue to support Pyongyang in its fight for independence, and will together build the security architecture in Eurasia, counter Western sanctions and establish independent transaction systems, Putin said in an article for the Rodong Sinmun newspaper on the eve of his state visit to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), according to TASS and the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

Putin wrote that Washington keeps setting obviously unacceptable requirements, while North Korea has repeatedly expressed its intention to resolve all existing differences by peaceful means.

"Russia has incessantly supported and will support the DPRK and the heroic Korean people in their struggle against the treacherous, dangerous and aggressive enemy, in their fight for independence, identity and the right to freely choose their development path," Putin stressed.

Wang Junsheng, a research fellow of East Asian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times on Tuesday that this visit is sure to bring Russia-North Korea relations to new heights. 

Due to NATO's expansion in Europe and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, and the US-led military alliances in Northeast Asia targeting Pyongyang, the deeper cooperation between Russia and North Korea is no surprise, Wang noted.  

Cui Heng, a research fellow from the Center for Russian Studies of East China Normal University, told the Global Times on Tuesday that "it is a rational choice" for Moscow and Pyongyang to cooperate, and any significant cooperation between Russia and North Korea could make the US concerned or even frightened. This means Washington's approach in past decades has failed to weaken and isolate these two countries, as they are now standing closer with each other and becoming more powerful than before through cooperation, Cui added.

Russia and North Korea are both important neighbors of China, and the three countries share interests in safeguarding regional peace and stability and oppose bloc confrontation and hegemony, Chinese analysts said.

On Thursday, Lin Jian, a spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said at a routine press conference in response to a question about the Russian president's visit to North Korea that "China welcomes Russia to cement and grow ties with countries they have traditional friendship with."

After his trip to North Korea, Putin will also visit Vietnam. The US, which upgraded relations with Vietnam last year and is one of its top trading partners, reacted harshly, Reuters reported on Monday. A spokesperson for the US embassy in Hanoi has complained to the media about Putin's visit to Vietnam due to the Ukraine crisis. 

However, the upcoming visit proves that Washington's rebuke did not affect Vietnam's decision and that many countries in the world have their own judgement on the Ukraine crisis, experts said. They don't always agree with what Washington says, and they are able to preserve their strategic autonomy while developing ties with the US, they added. 

According to TASS, by the end of 2023, the trade turnover between Russia and Vietnam came to about $5 billion. Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov said that the trade turnover has grown by 8 percent in a year and continues to increase, showing its great potential.

US decision-makers should realize that Washington cannot dictate everything or force others to accept US hegemonic values of right and wrong, and the more it tries to interfere in other countries, the more weaknesses it exposes to the world, analysts said.