Dictators are known to feel insecure for ever. Growing nervous over the unending war in Ukraine, Russia’s president and dictator Vladimir Putin is thirsting for more weapons. He wants Ukraine at any cost, even if it means getting weapons from North Korea, a minnow compared to Russia. Wasting no time, Mr Putin seems to have leveraged his authority to convince the North Korean president and dictator Kim Jong Un to stir out of his home.

Agenda of the Meet is No Secret

Sure, Mr Kim is more insecure than Mr Putin. So insecure that he does not leave his presidential fortress in Pyongyang usually. Even if he decides to travel, Mr Kim makes it a point to move around by train. As a North Korean delegation was in Russia recently, it is clear that plans are afoot to ensure Mr Kim’s Russian visit happens this September. As the two dictators plan for a pow-wow in the historic Russian city of Vladivostok, global spotlight is turning again on Ukraine. This is causing ripples, both in Russia and North Korea. https://www.reuters.com/world/russia- proposes-joint-navy-exercise-with-nkorea-china-yonhap-2023- 09-04/

The agenda of the meet is no secret. In deference to Mr Putin’s wishes, Mr Kim will be in Russia to explore how the former can get more weapons from the hermit kingdom for its 18-month-old war in Ukraine. As weapons for Russia will be the prime focus of the planned meeting, the two desperate dictators are sure to work out the modalities for greater military assistance to North Korea as well. The meet is so important for both that Mr Kim seems to have no issues about travelling by train, from Pyongyang to Vladivostok.

Video Courtesy: YouTube/Reuters

The Visit may Turn Historical

As Mr Kim’s sense of insecurity is legendary, he will travel by armoured train to Vladivostok. Mr Putin is sure to go all out to convince Mr Kim to send more artillery shells and anti-tank missiles to Russian frontlines. Being a returns-conscious Shylockian dictator, Mr Kim will extract his pound of flesh by making Russia agree to give him high-tech satellites, long-range missiles, hypersonic ballistic weapons, nuclear submarines and spy satellites, besides food for his hungering kingdom. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/kim-jong-un-expected- to-meet-with-putin-to-discuss-arms-deal

Mr Kim’s visit may turn historical as it has been scheduled to coincide with North Korea’s birth anniversary that falls on September 9th. There are other reasons why it may be historic. American presidential sources are alive with the info that both the dictators are planning to work out an unprecedented arms deal. The fact that high-level deliberations on advanced military co-operation between the two are in an advanced stage is a clear indication.

Mutual Back-Scratching Relationship

Such co-operation is sure to end in arms sales and consignments from North Korea to Russia. Mr Kim may stick to the terms of the deal, as Russia expects. As Russia and North Korea are united by a common enemy called the United States, both the dictators seem quite keen to make the deal a success. Mr Kim needs Russia’s support – arms, ammunition and moral – to deal with the United States and South Korea successfully. https://www.newsweek.com/china-russia-north-korea-biden- asia-allies-defense-pact-1820707

Russia too is in a mutual back-scratching relationship with Mr Kim. Mr Putin needs Mr Kim for advanced arms and moral backing for its campaign in Ukraine. This is why the delegations moving between Moscow-Vladivostok and Pyongyang have become common occurrences since August this year. These are all clear signs that Mr Kim is dead serious about his visit to Russia and the arms deal the two dictators have in mind. https://poliphoon.com/the- rise-of-the-new-fascist-axis/

Budding Signs of Military Co-operation

The chain of recent exchanges of delegations began in July this year. The man responsible for initiating the chain is Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defence minister. Mr Shoigu visited North Korea in July this year to attend the 70th anniversary of what Mr Kim loves to call North Korean victory over South Korean and American forces in the Korean war. Mr Shoigu’s visit proved to be a farce. Yet, it was seen by both Mr Putin and Mr Kim as great goodwill gestures. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/7/25/russias-shoigu- to-join-chinese-officials-in-north-korea-visit

The Korean war stopped in 1953, but the hanging stalemate keeps the two Koreas at war officially. Not surprising that the anniversary proved to be a farce. Though this is common knowledge, Russia was only happy to grace the occasion to keep Mr Kim in good spirits. This is where the budding signs of extended military co-operation are becoming visible. Official sources from both the nations say that Mr Kim’s visit to Russia was indeed proposed during Mr Shoigu’s visit. Viewed through this lens, Mr Shoigu’s visit may not be farce in the true sense of the term.

The Russian Visit is Opportunistic

Mr Shoigu’s visit to North Korea was significant for other reasons. This was the first for a Russian defence minister since 1991, the year the Soviet Union splintered. Moreover, it was during this visit that Mr Kim was officially invited by Mr Putin to visit Russia. Happy, the inflexible Mr Kim went on to make up his mind to visit Russia. Mr Kim will not forget so easily that North Korea was founded by Kim Il Sung, his grandfather, with the help of the Soviets in 1948. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Korea

Mr Kim’s proposed Russian visit is thus opportunistic for both the dictators. The Ukraine war is an issue of territorial sovereignty and personal pride for Mr Putin. Confrontations with the United States and South Korea are issues involving personal ego for the Mr Kim. Both the dictators seem to feel this is an opportune time for their two countries, which have a common enemy in the United States. Moreover, both of them have few backers on the global forum.

Why is the Visit Strategic for the Duo

Not surprising that Mr Putin and Mr Kim view the latter’s visit as strategic for common goals. Both are autocrats, obsessed with territorial expansion and egocentric issues. Both of them believe in the supreme power of nuclear arms in deciding territorial matters. Plus, both of them are terribly insecure about their lives and leave their presidential perches and palaces very rarely. When they do, they move out only in armoured trains. Above all, both the authoritarian presidents are globally isolated. Perhaps, these factors bring them together. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/putin- kim-jong-un-russia-north-korea-ukraine-b2405304.html

The Poliphoon’s Last Word

No one is able to stop China from backing Putin’s war in Ukraine. Iran continues to send drones to Russia for this war, besides helping the latter to set up a drone-making facility. Now, North Korea has decided to join this notorious list of Putin’s military backers. Mr Kim has already recognised the independence of Russia-occupied regions in Ukraine. Global sanctions and condemnations are only bouncing off Mr Putin’s back. As both Mr Putin and Mr Kim gear up to meet for the second time, after 2019, not just this duo, peace-lovers around the world too are growing desperate.