Russia and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are currently celebrating the 69th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. The Soviet Union was among the earliest supporters of Pyongyang and Russia remains an important neighbour to North Korea, even though recent events in the wider world have put a mild strain on relations.
Earlier today, the Russian news agency Tass released an interview with the DPRK’s Foreign Minsiter Ri Yong-ho, who generally spoke positively about the sate of relations between the neighbouring states.
In the last hour, Pyongyang announced that it has officially joined the list of countries that accept reality and understands that the Crimean peninsula is an integral part of the territory of the Russian Federation.
North Korea now joins, Afghanistan, Bolivia, Cuba, Kyrgyzstan, Nicaragua, Syria, Venezuela and Zimbabwe as countries which officially accept the position of Crimea. Many other countries de-facto understand that Crimea is Russian territory.
The move by Pyongyang is a gesture of good will that indicates, as stated in the North Korean Foreign Minister’s Tass interview, the willingness of Pyongyang to begin cooperating in Russia’s peace process for East Asia which includes tripartite cooperation between Moscow, Pyongyang and Seoul.
Additionally, Pyongyang has stated that it recognises the Kuril Islands (partly claimed by Japan) as Russian territory.
Earlier, Ri Yong-ho stated that Pyongyang’s only reservation in respect of the tripartite economic cooperation proposals, first made last month by Russian President Vladimir Putin, is that North Korea is unwilling to progress in such deals until the US de-militarises its positions in the region and stops threatening the DPRK with war.
The move today, is therefore indicative of the desire of North Korea and Russia to work together to overcome regional obstacles in the way of peace and cooperation. The primary obstacle is and remains the United States.