A Timeline of the Complicated Relations between Russia and North Korea

FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un shake hands during their meeting in Vladivostok, Russia, Thursday, April 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool, File)
FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un shake hands during their meeting in Vladivostok, Russia, Thursday, April 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool, File)
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A Timeline of the Complicated Relations between Russia and North Korea

FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un shake hands during their meeting in Vladivostok, Russia, Thursday, April 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool, File)
FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un shake hands during their meeting in Vladivostok, Russia, Thursday, April 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool, File)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has arrived in Russia to see President Vladimir Putin. It will be the two isolated leaders' second meeting. Their governments have not confirmed an agenda, but US officials say Putin may ask for artillery and other ammunition for his war in Ukraine.
Such a request would mark a reversal of roles from the 1950-53 Korean War, when the Soviet Union provided ammunition, warplanes and pilots to support communist North Korea's invasion of the South, and the decades of Soviet sponsorship of the North that followed, The Associated Press said.
Despite their often aligning interests, relations between Russia and North Korea have experienced highs and lows. A timeline of some key events:
1945-1948 — Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula ends with Tokyo’s World War II defeat in 1945 but the peninsula is eventually divided into a Soviet-backed north and a US-backed south. The Soviet military installs future dictator Kim Il Sung, a former guerrilla leader who fought Japanese forces in Manchuria, into power in the North.
1950-1953 — Kim Il Sung’s forces execute a surprise attack on the South in June 1950, triggering the Korean War. The conflict brought in forces from the newly created People’s Republic of China, aided by the Soviet air force. Troops from South Korea, the United States and other countries under the direction of the United Nations battle to repulse the invasion. A 1953 armistice stops the fighting and leaves the Korean Peninsula in a technical state of war.
Mid-1950s through 1960s — The Soviet Union continues to provide economic and military assistance to North Korea, but their relations decline as Kim Il Sung violently purges pro-Soviet and pro-Chinese factions within the North’s leadership to consolidate his power. Moscow reduces its aid but does not cut it off until the end of the Cold War.
1970s — As a rivalry between the Soviet Union and China intensifies, North Korea pursues an “equidistance” policy that allows it to play the mutually hostile communist giants against each other to extract more aid from both. Pyongyang also attempts to reduce its dependency on Moscow and Beijing, but a series of policy failures following heavy borrowing from international financial markets push the North Korean economy into decades of disarray.
1980s — Following Mikhail Gorbachev’s rise to power, the Soviet Union begins to reduce aid to North Korea and to favor reconciliation with South Korea. Seoul also expands diplomatic relations with communist countries in Eastern Europe, leaving Pyongyang increasingly isolated.
1990s — The 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union deprives North Korea of its main economic and security benefactor. The post-communist government in Moscow led by President Boris Yeltsin shows no enthusiasm for supporting North Korea with continued aid and subsidized trade. Moscow establishes formal diplomatic ties with Seoul in hopes of drawing South Korean investment and allows its Soviet-era military alliance with North Korea to expire. Kim Il Sung dies in 1994, and North Korea experiences a devastating famine later in the 1990s. The number of people to die in the mass starvation is estimated in the hundreds of thousands.
Early 2000s — After his first election as president in 2000, Vladimir Putin actively seeks to restore Russia’s ties with North Korea. Putin visits Pyongyang in July of that year to meet with Kim Jong Il, the second-generation North Korean leader. The two issue joint criticism of US missile defense plans. The trip is seen as Russia's statement that it would work to restore its traditional domains of influence as the divergence between Moscow and the West over key security issues grows. Putin hosts Kim Jong Il for subsequent meetings in Russia in 2001 and 2002.
Mid-to-late 2000s — Despite warmer relations, Russia twice supports UN Security Council sanctions against North Korea over what was then a nascent nuclear weapons and missile program. Russia participates in talks aimed at persuading the North to abandon its nuclear program in exchange for security and economic benefits. The talks, which also involved the United States, China, South Korea and Japan, collapse in December 2008.
2011-2012 — Months after a summit with then-Russian President Dimitry Medvedev in August 2011, Kim Jong Il dies. His son, Kim Jong Un, succeeds him as North Korea's ruler. In 2012, Russia agrees to write off 90% of North Korea’s estimated $11 billion debt.
2016-2017 — Kim Jong Un accelerates the North's nuclear and missile tests. Russia supports stringent Security Council sanctions that include limiting oil supplies and cracking down on the country’s labor exports.
2018-2019 — Kim Jong Un initiates diplomacy with Washington and Seoul to leverage his nuclear program for economic benefits. He also tries to improve ties with traditional allies China and Russia to boost his bargaining power. After his second meeting with US President Donald Trump break down over US-led sanctions on the North, Kim Jong Un travels to the eastern Russian city of Vladivostok for his first summit with Putin in April 2019. The leaders vow to expand cooperation, but the meeting doesn’t produce substantial results.
2022 — While using the distraction caused by Russia’s war on Ukraine to further ramp up its weapons tests, North Korea blames the United States for the conflict. Pyongyang claims the West’s “hegemonic policy” gave Putin justification to defend Russia by sending troops into the neighboring country. North Korea joins Russia and Syria in recognizing the independence of two Moscow-backed separatist regions of eastern Ukraine and hints at an interest in sending construction workers to those areas to help with rebuilding efforts. Russia and China block US-led efforts at the Security Council to strengthen sanctions on North Korea over its intensifying missile tests.
Sept, 12, 2023 — Kim Jong Un arrives in Russia to meet with Putin. He is expected to seek Russian economic aid and military technology in exchange for munitions to fuel Russia's war in Ukraine. The meeting follows Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu making a rare visit to North Korea in July and attending a massive military parade where Kim showcased long-range missiles designed to target the US mainland.



Biden's Withdrawal Injects Uncertainty Into Wars, Trade Disputes and Other Foreign Policy Challenges

FILE - President Joe Biden speaks at a news conference July 11, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
FILE - President Joe Biden speaks at a news conference July 11, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
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Biden's Withdrawal Injects Uncertainty Into Wars, Trade Disputes and Other Foreign Policy Challenges

FILE - President Joe Biden speaks at a news conference July 11, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
FILE - President Joe Biden speaks at a news conference July 11, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Joe Biden's withdrawal from the US presidential race injects greater uncertainty into the world at a time when Western leaders are grappling with wars in Ukraine and Gaza, a more assertive China in Asia and the rise of the far-right in Europe.
During a five-decade career in politics, Biden developed extensive personal relationships with multiple foreign leaders that none of the potential replacements on the Democratic ticket can match. After his announcement, messages of support and gratitude for his years of service poured in from near and far, said The Associated Press.
The scope of foreign policy challenges facing the next US president makes clear how consequential what happens in Washington is for the rest of the planet. Here's a look at some of them.
ISRAEL With Vice President Kamala Harris being eyed as a potential replacement for Biden, Israelis on Sunday scrambled to understand what her candidacy would mean for their country as it confronts increasing global isolation over its military campaign against Hamas.
Israel’s left-wing Haaretz daily newspaper ran a story scrutinizing Harris’ record of support for Israel, pointing to her reputation as Biden’s “bad cop" who has vocally admonished Israel for its offensive in Gaza. In recent months, she has gone further than Biden in calling for a cease-fire, denouncing Israel's invasion of Rafah and expressing horror over the civilian death toll in Gaza.
“With Biden leaving, Israel has lost perhaps the last Zionist president,” said Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York. “A new Democratic candidate will upend the dynamic.”
Biden's staunch defense of Israel since Hamas' Oct. 7 attack has its roots in his half-century of support for the country as a senator, vice president, then president. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant thanked Biden for his “unwavering support of Israel over the years.”
“Your steadfast backing, especially during the war, has been invaluable,” Gallant wrote on X.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog praised Biden as a “symbol of the unbreakable bond between our two peoples" and a “true ally of the Jewish people.” There was no immediate reaction from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, an ally of former President Donald Trump whose history of cordial relations with Biden has come under strain during the Israel-Hamas war.
UKRAINE Any Democratic candidate would likely continue Biden’s legacy of staunch military support for Ukraine. But frustration with the Biden administration has grown in Ukraine and Europe over the slow pace of US aid and restrictions on the use of Western weapons.
“Most Europeans realize that Ukraine is increasingly going to be their burden,” said Sudha David-Wilp, director of the Berlin office of the German Marshall Fund, a research institute. “Everyone is trying to get ready for all the possible outcomes.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on X that he respected the “tough but strong decision” by Biden to drop out of the campaign, and he thanked Biden for his help “in preventing (Russian President Vladimir) Putin from occupying our country.”
Trump has promised to end Russia's war on Ukraine in one day if he is elected — a prospect that has raised fears in Ukraine that Russia might be allowed to keep the territory it occupies.
Trump's vice presidential pick, Ohio Sen. JD Vance, is among Congress’ most vocal opponents of US aid for Ukraine and has further raised the stakes for Kyiv.
Russia, meanwhile, dismissed the importance of the race, insisting that no matter what happened, Moscow would press on in Ukraine.
“We need to pay attention,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by a pro-Russian tabloid. “We need to watch what will happen and do our own thing."
CHINA In recent months, both Biden and Trump have tried to show voters who can best stand up to Beijing’s growing military strength and belligerence and protect US businesses and workers from low-priced Chinese imports. Biden has hiked tariffs on electric vehicles from China, and Trump has promised to implement tariffs of 60% on all Chinese products.
Trump’s “America First” doctrine exacerbated tensions with Beijing. But disputes with the geopolitical rival and economic colossus over wars, trade, technology and security continued into Biden's term.
China's official reaction to the US presidential race has been careful. The official Xinhua news agency treated the story of Biden’s decision as relatively minor. The editor of the party-run Global Times newspaper, Hu Xijin, downplayed the impact of Biden's withdrawal.
“Whoever becomes the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party may be the same," he wrote on X. “Voters are divided into two groups, Trump voters and Trump haters.”
IRAN With Iran's proxies across the Middle East increasingly entangled in the Israel-Hamas war, the US confronts a region in disarray.
Yemen's Iran-backed Houthis struck Tel Aviv for the first time last week, prompting retaliatory Israeli strikes inside war-torn Yemen. Simmering tensions and cross-border attacks between Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group and the Israeli military have raised fears of an all-out regional conflagration.
Hamas, which also receives support from Iran, continues to fight Israel even nine months into a war that has killed 38,000 Palestinians and displaced over 80% of Gaza's population.
The US and its allies have accused Iran of expanding its nuclear program and enriching uranium to an unprecedented 60% level, near-weapons-grade levels.
After then-President Trump in 2018 withdrew from Tehran’s landmark nuclear deal with world powers, Biden said he wanted to reverse his predecessor's hawkish anti-Iran stance. But the Biden administration has maintained severe economic sanctions against Iran and overseen failed attempts to renegotiate the agreement.
The sudden death of Ebrahim Raisi — the supreme leader's hard-line protege — in a helicopter crash vaulted a new reformist to the presidency in Iran, generating new opportunities and risks. Masoud Pezeshkian has said he wants to help Iran open up to the world but has maintained a defiant tone against the US.
EUROPE AND NATO Many Europeans were happy to see Trump go after his years of disparaging the European Union and undermining NATO. Trump's seemingly dismissive attitude toward European allies in last month's presidential debate did nothing to assuage those concerns.
Biden, on the other hand, has supported close American relations with bloc leaders.
That closeness was on stark display after Biden's decision to bow out of the race. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk called his choice “probably the most difficult one in your life.” The newly installed British prime minister, Keir Starmer, said he respected Biden’s “decision based on what he believes is in the best interests of the American people.”
There was also an outpouring of affection from Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris, who called Biden a “proud American with an Irish soul."
The question of whether NATO can maintain its momentum in supporting Ukraine and checking the ambitions of other authoritarian states hangs in the balance of this presidential election, analysts say.
“They don't want to see Donald Trump as president. So there's quite a bit of relief but also quite a bit of nervousness" about Biden's decision to drop out, said Jeremy Shapiro, research director of the European Council on Foreign Relations. “Like many in the United States, but perhaps more so, they are really quite confused.”
MEXICO The close relationship between Mexico and the US has been marked in recent years by disagreements over trade, energy and climate change. Since President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took power in 2018, both countries have found common ground on the issue of migration – with Mexico making it more difficult for migrants to cross its country to the US border and the US not pressing on other issues.
The López Obrador administration kept that policy while Trump was president and continued it into Biden's term.
On Friday, Mexico’s president called Trump “a friend” and said he would write to him to warn him against pledging to close the border or blaming migrants for bringing drugs into the United States.
“I am going to prove to him that migrants don’t carry drugs to the United States,” he said, adding that “closing the border won’t solve anything, and anyway, it can’t be done.”