North Korea, Russia pledge mutual defense, says Putin 

Seoul, South Korea — North Korea and Russia have signed a treaty containing a mutual defense clause, Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announced Wednesday, during a rare Putin visit to Pyongyang.

Following a day of highly publicized events, Putin and Kim signed a “comprehensive strategic partnership agreement,” formally upgrading relations that have expanded since Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

The text of the agreement has not been released. But following the signing, Putin said the deal contains a clause that “provides for the provision of mutual assistance in the event of aggression against one of the parties,” according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.

Following the signing ceremony, Kim called Russia the “most honest friend and comrade,” insisting the treaty is peaceful and defensive in nature, according to Russian state media.

The development is sure to rattle Western leaders, who have condemned Russia-North Korea cooperation as a violation of international law. U.S. officials accuse North Korea of supplying Russia with thousands of containers of munitions, including ballistic missiles, for use on the Ukraine battlefield.

“Kim Jong Un has been able to extract more concessions than we thought he would be able to from his support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” said a Korea specialist and professor of international relations at King’s College London.

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