December 05, 2020

Could revitalization of Russia – North Korea relations lead to an economic renaissance?

Russia - DPRK relations have been steadily improving for over a year, suggesting Ukraine situation not cause

The revitalization of Russia - North Korea relations has become increasingly clear in recent months, taking place amid a sharp deterioration of relations between Russia and the West following the Ukraine crisis. There is a temptation, therefore, to explain this Russia-North Korea thaw as an “answer” by both sides to what they see as the hostile policy of the United States. Indeed, the DPRK was one of the few countries which supported the reunification of Crimea with Russia. And for it’s part, Russia reacted in a low-key manner to the missile tests conducted by DPRK in April, although a possible nuclear test in North Korea would be hard for Moscow to swallow. However, in the event a much anticipated fourth nuclear test does go ahead, Russia’s reaction would probably be milder than to last year’s test and would likely amount to nothing more than a formal condemnation without any practical measures. Above all, Russia will certainly not support any stricter measures at the UN.

So what caused this revitalization of bilateral relations? In actual fact, improving economic relations preceded this thaw – developing for about a year – paving the way for political rapprochement. Now, it seems, a political decision to increase economic cooperation on more lenient terms could be taken – especially given now closer positions on international issues and North Korea’s desire to balance out its economic dependence from China.