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NATO Chief Raises Alarm Over Russia-North Korea Strategic Partnership

By Vusala Abbasova June 20, 2024

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Stoltenberg pointed out that North Korea has supplied Russia with "an enormous amount of ammunition," while China and Iran are significantly aiding Russia's defense industry in its ongoing conflict with Ukraine. / Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP via Getty Images

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has expressed significant concerns over a new strategic partnership deal between Russia and North Korea. 

Speaking at an event hosted by the NATO Association of Canada on Wednesday, Stoltenberg emphasized the increasing alignment between authoritarian regimes, highlighting the urgency for democracies to stand united.

“We need to be aware that authoritarian powers are aligning more and more. They are supporting each other in a way we haven’t seen before,” Stoltenberg stated.

Stoltenberg pointed out that North Korea has supplied Russia with "an enormous amount of ammunition," while China and Iran are significantly aiding Russia's defense industry in its ongoing conflict with Ukraine. He stressed the importance of unity among democratic nations in the face of such alliances.

"When they are more and more aligned – authoritarian regimes like North Korea and China, Iran, Russia – then it’s even more important that we are aligned as countries believing in freedom and democracy," he asserted.

The NATO chief also raised concerns about the potential implications of the treaty for North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, suggesting that Russia could contribute to their development. 

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed a treaty at a summit in Pyongyang within Putin's first visit to the North Korean capital since 2000. The newly signed pact upgrades their relationship to an allied level and includes a clause similar to NATO’s Article V, which mandates mutual assistance in the event of aggression against one of the parties to this agreement. According to the published text of the agreement, Article 4 stipulates that should either country "get into a state of war due to an armed aggression," the other "shall immediately provide military and other assistance with all the means at its disposal."

This pact, considered the strongest between the two nations since the Cold War, has raised alarms in the West, reflecting the deepening ties between Russia and North Korea amid rising tensions with the West. 

Relations between Russia and North Korea have notably strengthened in recent years, particularly as Russia faces increased hostility from Western nations over its invasion of Ukraine and the suppression of domestic opposition. 

The meeting with Kim Jong Un, and this “breakthrough” pact, come at the same time with the delivery of long-awaited US weapons to Ukraine. The US and other NATO countries have recently permitted Ukraine to use Western weapons on Russian soil, a strategic move that Kyiv hopes will turn the tide in its favor.

President Putin has warned of consequences and has hinted at the possibility of arming adversaries of the West with long-range weapons, which North Korea has been developing.