Russia-North Korea Cooperation: World Must Not Tolerate Weapons Transfers That Deepen Global Crisis

If North Korea’s transfer of weapons to Russia affects the situation in Ukraine to Russia’s advantage, it will add to the West’s “support fatigue” for Ukraine and deepen the global crisis.

The international community needs to take a firm stand against military cooperation between Russia and North Korea.

The U.S. government has announced that North Korea has provided Russia with dozens of ballistic missiles and launchers. Russia reportedly used those missiles in attacks on Ukraine late last year and early this year, striking the Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia regions.

In addition to those ballistic missiles, Russia has received artillery shells and other supplies from North Korea since last year. It is likely that the prolonged aggression against Ukraine has depleted its arsenal of weapons.

Arms trade with North Korea, a country that continues to develop nuclear weapons and missiles, is prohibited by U.N. Security Council resolutions. Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council, agreed to those resolutions.

It is outrageous that Russia violated the resolutions and procured weapons from North Korea for use in its aggression against Ukraine. It leaves no choice but to say that Russia is not qualified to serve as a permanent member of the Security Council, which is responsible for international peace and security.

It is only natural that about 50 countries and organizations, including the United States, European countries and Japan, issued a joint statement and condemned the military cooperation between Russia and North Korea.

At a Security Council meeting last week to discuss the issue, the United States, European countries and Japan made the accusation that North Korean missiles are destroying critical infrastructure in Ukraine. Russia, in turn, responded by saying that reports of arms transfers from North Korea were false information by the United States.

Since the Security Council has fallen into dysfunction, the United States, Europe and Japan should consider submitting a resolution to the U.N. General Assembly calling for the suspension of military cooperation between Russia and North Korea. Although a General Assembly resolution does not have binding force, it is not insignificant in terms of arousing international public opinion through the participation of a large number of U.N. member states.

The United States’ additional aid for Ukraine has stalled due to conflict between the country’s two major political parties. In Europe, there are growing calls for giving greater priority to dealing with soaring prices than to support for Ukraine.

U.S. and European leaders are urged to persistently explain the significance of defending the international order and to continue to provide military assistance. Japan, too, should provide assistance to the extent possible, including equipment limited to defense purposes.

Military cooperation between Russia and North Korea is not an issue only involving Europe. North Korea is apparently asking Russia to provide it with fighter aircraft in return for arms transfers.

If North Korea upgrades its current fighter jets to newer models, it will pose a threat to Asia. The Japanese government must assess North Korea’s capabilities and deepen security cooperation with the United States and South Korea.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 16, 2024)