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Visiting Father Russia


WORLD Radio - Visiting Father Russia

Russian and North Korean heads of state meet at a Russian spaceport to strengthen historic ties

Russian President Vladimir Putin, second right, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, second left, speak during their meeting at the Vostochny cosmodrome outside the city of Tsiolkovsky. Associated Press/Photo by Vladimir Smirnov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo

MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Tuesday the 19th of September, 2023.

Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. First up today: North Korea and Russia strengthen ties.

Last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un traveled by train to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the town of Vostochny.

During their summit, President Kim said at a state dinner that the two nations would deepen their strategic and tactical cooperation. He also supported Russia’s war in Ukraine.


What does this meeting mean for the two nations and the world watching?

Joining us now is Will Inboden. He is a professor at the University of Florida. He previously served the George W. Bush Administration as a member of the National Security Council. And he’s a columnist with WORLD Opinions.

REICHARD: Good morning, Will.

INBODEN: Good morning. It's great to be with you.

REICHARD: Will, the first time Putin met with Kim was four years ago in a Russian city near the border with North Korea. This time, they met at Russia’s spaceport a thousand miles away. What’s significant about the venue?

INBODEN: It is a notable venue, Mary, and I think Putin chose it to showcase Russia's space and satellites and missile technology in particular, which is a key part of the package of goodies that he is offering to Kim. And it's also part of a message that Putin is trying to send send to the world that even though Russia is on its back heels or has been dealt some real setbacks in Ukraine, and its economy is a mess in other ways, Russia's power and prestige has been diminished, Russia is still one of the world's leaders in Space and Missile and satellite technology. And so Putin, it's partly his way of reminding the world of Russia's strength there, and also signaling to the world, especially the United States, that he's deepening this strategic partnership with the Kim regime in North Korea.

REICHARD: Let’s talk about the motivations behind the summit. What do Russia and North Korea need from each other?

INBODEN: Yeah, there's certainly benefits flowing both ways here. So because of the sanctions on Russia, and because of the costs of the Ukraine War, Russia has conventional weapons, stocks, you know, artillery, shells, bullets, things like that have been seriously depleted. And North Korea has a lot of those. And so North Korea is going to be providing those to Russia, to enable Russia to continue its aggression in Ukraine. And in turn, Russia is providing North Korea more advanced satellite and missile missile technology. North Korea already has quite a few nuclear warheads, you know, somewhere between 50 and 100, and they've been trying to perfect what's called the Long Range delivery systems so that, their missiles that can reach as far as United States, as well as their satellite reconnaissance to guide those missiles. And so they can now be getting that from Russia. So it's a very worrisome development.

REICHARD: How does this summit affect the balance of power in Asia, and then more broadly?

INBODEN: Yeah, this this is where there is a very interesting history. So the Soviet Union was the original patron actually the Father, if you will, of North Korea at the end of World War Two, when the Korean peninsula was partitioned and you know, free South Korea set up and then communist North Korea, with Kim Jong Un's grandfather, Kim Il Sung, he was installed by the Soviet Union. And so throughout the Cold War, the Soviet Union was the main patron, the main funder, the main weapons supplier to North Korea. That all changed with the collapse of the Soviet Union over 30 years ago and the end of the Cold War. And then China stepped in over the past few decades being North Korea's main patron, but now Russia is returning to one of its historic roles as also a patron for North Korea. And so insofar as North Korea is a real threat to the United States and our allies, and it is, this affects the overall balance of power in the region, with North Korea now being further strengthened and emboldened and removed from some of its isolation, just as it is now helping helping lessen some of Moscow's isolation.

REICHARD: The Biden administration wants to send long-range missiles to Ukraine, giving them offensive weapons. Early on, we sent small arms and defensive weapons. What are some consequences of this change, especially if stickers that say “made in America” are on missiles that hit Russian cities?

INBODEN: You know, I think there's basically two lines of criticism of the Biden administration's policies towards Ukraine. Some people have been critical that Biden has supported Ukraine at all. Others of us on the right have been very critical that Biden's support has been kind of weak and tepid. It's been trying to do just enough to keep Ukraine afloat and from losing the war, but it's contributed to this really terrible stalemate. And it's partly from some of the Biden administration's fears of Russia and what we might call self-deterrence. So, I think it's in our interest to see Russia dealt a strong, strong defeat here and Ukraine preserve its democracy and its viability. And the way to do that is to give them enough to win.

And so, you know, the question about new missiles with Made in America on them maybe hitting behind Russian lines, I don't think that would be a strategic game changer as far as U.S.-Russia relations. Russia already sees us as an adversary and has for a long time. I think, you know, a swift end on favorable terms for Ukraine to this war is certainly in America's interest, especially even as we look at what our adversaries like North Korea and China are now doing now that they have cozied up to Russia so much. So if we're worried about the threat of those communist regimes in East Asia, one way to set them back some would also be to defeat their new partner, Russia.

REICHARD: Will Inboden is professor and director of Classical and Civic Education at the University of Florida. Thanks Will!

INBODEN: Thank you. It's always great to be with you.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.


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