May 31, 2023

By backing Russia in Donbas, Kim Jong Un trades self-reliance for puppetry

Recognizing pseudo-states marks radical shift for North Korea, but cuddling up to Moscow could make peninsula safer

It’s just over a month now since North Korea officially recognized the so-called people’s republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, and I for one have been pondering this ever since. It is an extraordinary move on many counts, especially for the DPRK of all countries.

For starters, there isn’t exactly a global rush here. While quite a few states worldwide broadly take Russia’s side for various reasons — or sit on the fence — almost none go so far as to take seriously the puppet statelets that Russian aggression first carved out of eastern Ukraine in 2014, before Moscow formally recognized its progeny in February.