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Putin visits North Korea and Vietnam; signs strategic pacts with both the nations

This week, the world fixated its eyes on the meeting of the representatives of the two different worlds, with the same political ideology. The state visit of the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, to North Korea has resulted in a significant mutual defence pact between both the nations to engage further. While on one hand, […]

This week, the world fixated its eyes on the meeting of the representatives of the two different worlds, with the same political ideology. The state visit of the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, to North Korea has resulted in a significant mutual defence pact between both the nations to engage further. While on one hand, Russia signed this significant ‘mutual defence agreement’ (read: alarming for the US and its allies) with North Korea, on the other hand, it has signed a series of pacts with Vietnam to bolster cooperation in the areas of defence & security, education, science and technology and more.

This week, Russia and North Korea strengthened their bilateral relations by signing a mutual defence pact. This pact enables them to provide immediate military assistance to each other in the event of any armed aggression This significant pact was signed during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s first visit to North Korea in 24 years this week, and is considered as the revival of 1961 mutual defence pact between the two nations, which was cancelled when the Soviet Union established diplomatic relations with South Korea in 1990.

The comprehensive strategic partnership agreement, signed by President Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Wednesday this week, represents one of Russia’s most high-profile diplomatic initiatives in Asia in recent years. Both Russia and North Korea oppose the ‘West lobby’ and share same political ideology. Russia is already engrossed in war with Ukraine presently to stop the ‘NATOfication’ of Ukraine in specific and Europe in general. On the other hand, North Korea stays aligned with China in opposing the US and its allies in Asia.

The leaders of these internationally incarcerated countries have vowed mutual support, sparking concerns among the US and its Asian partners about the extent of Russia’s backing for nuclear-armed North Korea. Kim has directly echoed Putin’s stance, tying their strengthening alliance to combating the “hegemonic” policies of the West, especially the US’ unconditional support for Ukraine. Additionally, the agreement prohibits either side from signing any treaty with a third party that undermines the other’s interests, and they will not permit their territory to be used in a way that harms the other’s security and sovereignty, according to the reports and statements from North Korean state media.

This development has raised the alarming belles for the US, Japan, South Korea and all those nations who keep working together to contain Russia, China and North Korea. Japan has voiced its serious apprehensions about Putin’s pledge to potentially collaborate with Pyongyang on military technology. The US and South Korea are also alarmed by the strengthening military partnership between Russia and North Korea, accusing them of breaching international laws through arms trade to support Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

On the other hand, in his recent state visit to Vietnam, Russian President Putin and Vietnamese President To Lam signed a series of pacts to bolster cooperation in the areas of defence & security, education, science, and technology. The two leaders also inked deals spanning fields like oil, gas, healthcare, and a blueprint for a nuclear research and development hub in Vietnam. These accords accentuate Russia’s resolve to amplify its engagement with Vietnam across diverse domains.

Vietnam has had close diplomatic ties with Russia dating back to 1950, underpinned by cooperation in military hardware and energy. Putin’s recent visit to Vietnam comes after Moscow signed a strategic pact with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, demonstrating Russia’s efforts to bolster its regional partnerships in Asia against the Western sanctions.

The US Embassy in Vietnam has openly criticized Putin’s visit, and has expressed its serious concerns about granting him a platform amid the ongoing conflicts and global condemnation of Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Yet, Vietnam’s approach reflects its broader strategy of maintaining a balanced international stance while pursuing its economic and defence interests. Vietnam practices a pragmatic, multi-vector ‘bamboo diplomacy’ that showcases its strategic adaptability, balancing relations with major powers like the US, China, and now Russia. Overall, Putin’s visit to Vietnam underscores Russia’s attempts to bolster partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region, despite the geopolitical challenges and international scrutiny it faces. These moves are viewed as the efforts to counterbalance the Western influence in the region. Furthermore, the visit and the associated developments highlight Vietnam’s pivotal role in regional as well as global diplomacy.

While these visits of Putin are considered as a ‘positive development’ by the nations and the leaders who oppose the US and its allies, the nations like Japan, South Korea and the US have expressed their serious concerns considering the probable shift in the power balance in the region. Russia-Ukraine war ignited a very critical debate – Is world getting sharply and clearly divided in to two lobbies day by day? Or, was it always like this? Meanwhile it can only be wished that the leaders understand the consequences that the lobby politics brings along, and choose to remain lobby-neutral and development-oriented.

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