2023 marked the 70th anniversary of what Pyongyang believes to be its victory in the Korean War. The North Korean war effort then was actively supported by the Soviet Union. Throughout the Cold War confrontation in the Asia Pacific region, Pyongyang remained one of the Soviet Union's closest allies.

In the 1990s and 2000s successive Russian governments supported international sanctions imposed on the DPRK in response to its nuclear-missile program. One of the latest rounds of sanctions was approved by President Vladimir Putin in October 2017.

The war in Ukraine has acted as a trigger for the reanimation of the frozen strategic ties between the nations. Kim Jong Un's regime was one of the very few that openly sided with Moscow when it invaded Ukraine in February 2022. In 2023, Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu led a large Russian defence delegation to Pyongyang. In September that year Kim Jong Un held his second meeting with Putin and toured the Russian Far East.

Despite ambitions to increase economic ties, the Russia-DPRK rapprochement is likely to prioritise political, security and defence cooperation, to counteract US plans to strengthen the trilateral security and defence arrangement with Seoul and Tokyo alongside the AUKUS agreement.

What will Putin's forecast visit to the DPRK, which may occur as early as May, reveal about how far the two regimes are prepared to go in rebuilding strategic ties?

Location for in-person attendance: AIIA Victoria, Level 13, 356 Collins Street, Melbourne 3000

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AIIA Victoria gratefully acknowledges the Walter Mangold Trust Fund for their support of our young members.

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