A top Russian military official has stated that Moscow plans on conducting joint military exercises with North Korea. If negotiations are successful, the military drills will include naval and air force exercises as well as joint drills between ground troops from Russia and North Korea.
Military exercises involving both North Korea and Russia could increase tensions along the Korean peninsula — where the US routinely conducts joint military drills with South Korea.
Relations between North Korea and Russia have been on the upswing recently. Due to the sanctions placed on Russia over the Ukraine crisis, Moscow has sought to backstop its flagging economy by turning east towards China and North Korea.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has confirmed that he will attend Russian celebrations marking the end of World War II in May. It will be Kim’s first foreign visit since coming to power in 2011.
Recently, Russia offered sympathy to North Korea amid the Sony hacking scandal. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich, commenting on the movie “The Interview”, a comedy depicting the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that sparked the dispute, that “the concept of the movie is so aggressive and scandalous, that the reaction of the North Korean side, and not just it, is quite understandable.”
Russia’s ties with the communist North soured after the 1991 Soviet collapse, but have improved under President Vladimir Putin’s watch. Moscow has taken part in international efforts to help mediate the standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs, although its diplomatic efforts have had little visible effect.