According to a lawmaker who was present at a closed-door briefing with the head of South Korea’s top spy agency on Monday, Russia has probably suggested that North Korea take part in trilateral naval exercises with China.
The briefing came days after Alexander Matsegora, the Russian ambassador to North Korea, told Russian media that including North Korea in joint military exercises between Russia and China “seems appropriate.”
Matsegora added that it was his personal opinion and that he wasn’t aware of any preparations, according to Russia’s Tass news agency. When asked about the possibility of such exercises, South Korean National Intelligence Service Director Kim Kyou-hyun reportedly responded that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu probably suggested holding trilateral naval exercises with North Korea and China, according to lawmaker Yoo Sang-bum.
While promising to increase military cooperation with Moscow, Kim Jong Un invited Shoigu to a significant military parade in Pyongyang in July. According to American officials, this could involve North Korea supplying Russia with artillery and other ammunition as Russian President Vladimir Putin appeals to other nations for support in his conflict with Ukraine.
The White House claimed last week that Kim and Putin corresponded via letters as Moscow turned to Pyongyang for additional weapons. In an effort to end his diplomatic isolation and convince Pyongyang to join a united front against the United States, Kim Jong Un has been attempting to increase the visibility of his alliances with Moscow and Beijing amid rising nuclear tensions with Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo.
Disagreements over the crippling U.S.-led sanctions against North Korea and the North’s stalled efforts to wind down its nuclear and missile programs have caused diplomacy between Pyongyang and Washington to stall since 2019.
In the briefing, the service director, Kim Kyou-hyun, also stated that North Korea’s recent testing activities indicate that its warplanes are heavily dependent on its tactical nuclear systems in order to quickly defeat the South if war breaks out.
According to lawmaker Yoo, North Korea’s military is otherwise underequipped and would struggle to handle a protracted war.
Since the beginning of 2022, Kim has increased his weapon demonstrations, which have included more than 100 missile launches, by capitalizing on the global attention being paid to Russia’s conflict in Ukraine.
Kim has interspersed his testing campaign with verbal threats to launch nuclear attacks against South Korea and other adversaries if the North feels that its leadership is in danger.