Putin, Kim and Xi could form new arms alliance

Analysis from China-Understander: Large arms alliance of the three dictators is becoming extremely dangerous because of nuclear weapons.

The meeting between Putin and Kim Jung-un in Vladivostok, Russia could turn geopolitics on its head. The rulers Putin, Kim and Xi are moving closer together and could form a new, threatening arms alliance.

The announced meeting between the two dictators Vladimir Putin and Kim Jung-un in Waldivostok, Russia, raises the question of the extent to which Pyongyang might be prepared to replenish the depleted Russian ammunition depots. A potential arms deal between the two dictatorships would not necessarily require a meeting of heads of state; Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was only in Pyongyang in July. Therefore, this meeting should send a signal beyond the actual question of arms deliveries and tell the free world that Russia and North Korea are still a force to be reckoned with.

Specifically, Putin needs access to North Korea’s military supplies because Russia’s magazines are empty after a year and a half of war. Pyongyang reportedly has large ammunition reserves, most of which are based on Soviet-era models and would therefore be compatible with Russian weapons systems. North Korea also has a defense industry that could produce fresh weapons and ammunition for the Kremlin. The White House warned last November that Pyongyang was secretly supplying Russia with artillery shells that were being shipped to Ukraine via the Middle East and Africa.

Alexander Görlach is honorary professor of ethics at Leuphana University in Lüneburg and senior fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in New York. After a stay in Taiwan and Hong Kong, he focused on the rise of China and what it means for democracies in East Asia in particular. From 2009 to 2015, Alexander Görlach was also the publisher and editor-in-chief of the debate magazine The European, which he founded. Today he is a columnist and author for various media. He lives in New York and Berlin.

Beijing has kept Russia economically afloat since the start of the war of aggression

In return, Russia could provide North Korea with satellite and nuclear technology for submarines that Pyongyang’s Stone Age regime cannot yet produce itself. In the past, Moscow has always been reluctant to share this technology, not only with North Korea, but also with the People’s Republic of China. There you should be informed about the meeting between the two men, both of whom are dependent in their own way on the powerful autocrat of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping. Beijing has kept Russia economically afloat since the start of the war of aggression against Ukraine. In return for the expiration of heavily discounted gas, the so-called People’s Liberation Army could also look for and demand Russian know-how.

If there is now a technology transfer to Pyongyang that supports the nuclear ambitions of Kim, whom Donald Trump called “the rocket man,” this would indeed be a departure from Russia’s previous policy. Moscow has always supported sanctions over the Kim family’s nuclear bomb program, as the prospect of nuclear escalation so close to Russia’s east has worried Moscow. The war in Ukraine has apparently shifted this calculation. The Moscow-Beijing-Pyongyang axis can therefore rightly be understood as a new axis of evil.

North Korea could play Russia and China off against each other

Kim Jung-un has a certain upper hand over Vladimir Putin due to the current geo-political situation. Kim also knows that he is an important building block in Xi Jinping’s strategy to annoy the free world, especially the United States of America. North Korea may now use this situation in general and the meeting in Vladivostok in particular to play Russia and China off against each other. It remains questionable whether such a project will be successful, because militarily there is no longer a match between Russia and China. Just in July, Chinese and Russian warships carried out a joint maneuver in which they ventured off the coast of Alaska.

The war in Ukraine certainly accelerated the intensification of the relationship, but the development of closer cooperation began shortly after Xi Jinping took office in 2012. In 2019, Beijing and Moscow decided on closer military cooperation, with Xi achieving this through the annexation of the Crimea rushed to the aid of Putin, who had fallen out of favor in the free world.

North Korea should not be underestimated

In return, Putin has supported Xi’s nefarious actions against Taiwan, in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong. Since Moscow and Beijing have so far not come into each other’s way in terms of their imperial ambitions, the alliance has lasted to this day. North Korea is not to be underestimated in this trio actorbecause the country has a veritable arms industry that keeps South Korea, Japan and the United States busy.

In March of this year, Politico magazine reported that the People’s Republic was already supporting Putin’s hideous war without sanctions: protective equipment sent to the front would be enough, the paper said, to equip many of the men mobilized by Russia since the invasion. Beijing is also sending drones that can direct artillery fire or drop grenades, as well as night vision devices. If Kim now commits to supplying ammunition, then it becomes clear that the three dictators are not just meeting for show, but are pursuing tangible military goals together.

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