The Chief of Staff of Russian Armed Forces announced at a meeting with the country’s heads of military that Russia is entering negotiations with the armed forces of several countries include North Korea.
The Business Insider reported that Russian Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov stated that Moscow plans on conducting joint military exercises with North Korea. If negotiations go well, the drills will include both naval and air force exercises.
“We are planning an expansion of the communication lines of our military central command,” Gerasimov said. “We are entering preliminary negotiations with the armed forces of Brazil, Vietnam, Cuba and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”
The U.S. currently conducts joint military drills with South Korea along the Korean peninsula. Military exercises involving both North Korea and Russia could increase tensions, but officials feel that if anything, the military relationship between Moscow and Pyongyang will most likely be superficial.
“Russia is well-aware of the detrimental influence North Korea could have if Russia lets it beef up its military capacities, nuclear and rocket technologies, a possible connection with al-Qaeda, etc.,” South Korean expert Yune Hyeong-jin said. “Russia doesn’t seem to be interested in modernizing North Korean weaponry, which can make the North more dangerous.”
The U.S. does not find a Russian-North Korean partnership to be threatening either.
“The Russian military may be reaching out to other countries as part of Moscow’s effort to show that it is not isolated, despite the very negative international reaction to Russian aggression against Ukraine,” former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pifer said.
In 2011, North Korea and Russia agreed to hold their first joint military exercise. However, the exercise concentrated on search and rescue operations and humanitarian missions, unlike this proposed joint effort that would include actual combat training.
According to the Business Insider, the sanctions placed on Russia over the Ukraine crisis has spurred Moscow to seek support of its waning economy by strengthening relationships with China and North Korea.
It has been confirmed that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will attend Russian celebrations marking the end of World War II in May. This will be Kim’s first foreign visit since taking reign.