February 25, 2024
Columns

Conspicuous cooperation: Why Shoigu made a show of buying arms from North Korea

Russia could have discussed weapons sales discreetly, but it chose ostentation to send a political message

North Korea's Pyongyang Sunan Airport greeted a high-level visitor for the first time in some three years last week, as Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu, one of Vladimir Putin's closest associates, arrived in the capital. It happened quite suddenly: The DPRK only announced the trip one day in advance. 

Shoigu’s trip was significant as it was the first time a foreign delegation had visited the North Korean capital since spring 2020, when the country closed its borders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.