Russia and North Korea will give each other ‘military assistance’ during war

Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un
Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un meet in North Korea - VLADIMIR SMIRNOV/SPUTNIK/KREMLIN POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Russia and North Korea will give each other “military assistance” if either is attacked, according to the new mutual defence pact signed by Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang.

The document, published by North Korean state media following the two leaders’ meeting in Pyongyang, lays out for the first time in black and white the parameters of a new mutual defence deal.

It states that if either country is subjected to “armed aggression” by other countries or finds itself in a state of war, the other shall “immediately provide military and other assistance by all means at its disposal”.

The agreement represents the most significant cooperation between the two nations in decades, reviving their 1961 mutual defence pledge from the Cold War era, and raises questions over North Korean involvement in the grinding war in Ukraine.

Observers noted that the deal refers to Article 51 of the UN Charter, which recognises a UN member state’s right to self-defence. The UN reference point is also cited in Nato’s Article 5, which says an armed attack against one country is an armed attack against all.

Putin and Mr Kim have agreed to defend each other in war
Putin and Mr Kim have agreed to defend each other in war - Getty Images AsiaPac

Yu Ji-hoon, research fellow at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, told CNN that the treaty’s “automatic intervention clause” meant all military assets will be mobilised, “including the army, navy, and air force”.

Other analyses argue the deal does not explicitly imply automatic intervention.

Western observers will also ponder if the deal means Russia’s nuclear umbrella now extends to North Korea, which could become a vassal state to Moscow like Belarus, or if the two countries will hold joint military drills.

Sanctions-hit North Korea is in need of goods and materials from Russia and can offer to supply Russia’s war-depleted workforce with labour in return.

The deal also grants Mr Kim influence with Russia, which holds a veto on the UN Security Council.

Putin and Mr Kim signed the treaty on Wednesday
The treaty was signed by both leaders on Wednesday - STR/AFP

A US State Department spokesman said the deepening cooperation between the two rogue states was “of great concern to anyone interested in maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, upholding the global non-proliferation regime, abiding by UN Security Council resolutions, and supporting the people of Ukraine”.

Lim Soo-suk, South Korea’s foreign minister spokesman, said the agreement disregarded repeated warnings from the international community.

Putin lashed out at “the imperialist policy of the United States and its satellites,” after signing the deal with Mr Kim.

Putin travelled on to Hanoi in Vietnam on Thursday for another state visit as the Russian president, subject to an International Criminal Court warrant for war crimes, sought to further bolster international ties.

He arrived in Vietnam for talks with its communist leaders on the second stop of his two-nation tour.

The US, among Vietnam’s major trade partners, warned Hanoi the visit risked normalising Russia’s “blatant violations of international law”.