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Peter Zeihan

Geopolitical Strategist

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Commentary

Russia, North Korea summit is a warning to the West

Sep 15, 2023

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Peter Zeihan

Geopolitical Strategist

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The meeting between Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un wrapped up, with military aid being the main topic of discussion. Some analysts and government officials in the West are concerned that this alliance could create instability in the region.

Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan breaks down what each side might gain from the deal and warns the West.

Excerpted from Peter’s Sept. 15 “Zeihan on Geopolitics” newsletter:

Putin and Kim Jong-un finally had their little tea party at the Cosmodrome out in the far east of Russia. Besides boosting each other’s egos and gossiping a bit, it looks like the main discussions revolved around North Korea providing military assistance to Russia in the form of artillery shells.

Since Russia’s war on Ukraine won’t be letting up anytime soon, they need to replenish their dwindling supply of artillery shells. With limited options, Russia will have to settle for outdated North Korean supplies – not quite the pick of the litter here.

What does North Korea get out of this deal? Russia doesn’t have much to offer, but they could transfer some long-range missile tech to the North Koreans…and that’s cause for concern.

Given this deal’s regional and global security implications, countries like South Korea, Japan, China and the U.S. should be worried. Sure, there are sanctions in place, but in all reality, those minor deterrents won’t stop North Korea.

Hey everybody, Peter zine here coming to you from Phoenix, Arizona. Today we have to talk about the summit between the strongmen of Russia in Korea. So Vladimir Putin on the Russian side and Kim Jong on on the Korean side, they met in one of the Russian cosmid rooms in the Far East. And the primary topic was whether or not the North Koreans can provide the Russians with military assistance, which for anyone who has a sense of history, the iron here is practically bleeding out of the sky. Anyway, the issue, of course, is that the Russian war in Ukraine is not going to spec. And when you have a conscript heavy force like the Russians do, you try to use standoff weapons and entrepreneurially smart and large volumes, specifically artillery. If you exclude either China or the United States from the math, Russia has more artillery than the rest of the planet combined. And best guesses by the end of this year, they’ve gone through over 20 million artillery shells, artillery shells,
don’t aged particularly well. And after they’re more than like 10, especially after 20 years old, the explosive start to crystallize a little bit. And that can make things decidedly lively. When you try to I don’t know, move them, especially when you try to launch them. So the Russians have had a lot of accidents with the transport system, their logistical system. And then of course, they’ve had a lot of barrels and the artillery just blow up from the inside. All of these are bad things if you’re trying to launch a lot of artillery, so they need more shells. And they’re turning to North Korea, which I believe has the world’s fourth largest stock of artillery. The problem here, of course, is that North Korea’s industrial plant isn’t exactly great either. And a lot of the North Korean stuff is actually older than the Russian stuff gives you an idea of how desperate the Russians are for ammo. Now, the question, of course, is what are the North Koreans get in return? Because the Russians don’t have anything from a trade point of view that’s of use, you might be able to send a few tankers of crude oil. But the Russians honestly need that for hard currency earnings. So the question is, if there’s anything else gonna be transferred, in terms of military technology, there really isn’t. One of the things that the Indians have found out recently, that they’ve been developing missiles and planes with the Russians were the the Indians provide a lot of the capital. And then the Russian is part of the technical know how. And what they’ve discovered is very few of those contracts are actually being honored by the Russian side, because the Russians have lost the technical capacity to manufacture even moderate numbers of planes. So they’re now starting to back out of all their context as they realize that the Russians had been lying to him the whole time. In addition, there’s some talk of like, maybe a nuclear powered vessel or submarine, but it’s taken the Russians 15 years to build their last nuclear powered ship, which was an icebreaker. So arguably, the argument to be made here is whether or not the Russians even have the capacity to sustain their existing nucular naval fleet much less build new ships for themselves, much less have surplus to transfer to North Koreans. And honestly, it’s looking pretty poor for that. That doesn’t mean the Russians have nothing and it doesn’t mean that it’s not a problem, it’s just probably not gonna be the things that most people are talking about. Look at where the meeting was the Cosmodrome. This is a facility out in the Far East that the Russians built when they lost control of the Kazakhstan cosmodrome at the end of the Cold War. And when it comes to launching satellites, or intercontinental ballistic missiles, the Russians are still one of the few places in the world where that technology can theoretically be obtained, even if the Russians have lost the capacity to build a lot of new stuff themselves. So the primary global concern, or primary regional concern for North Korea is missiles, long range of missiles, and that is something the Russians have in spades. So whether it’s officially part of a program to launch a satellite into space, which you know, whatever, or more likely to develop and deliver a payload to another hemisphere. That is something the Russians can and probably are willing to transfer to the North Koreans because the Russians are no longer party to any meaningful arms control treaties at all, which will generate no end of headache not just for the South Koreans and the Japanese and Chinese who Newsflash, the North Koreans hate the Chinese, but also the United States. There’s not a lot the United States can do about this because the North Koreans are not in a position where sanctions work at all you can do is punish the Russians indirectly.
And hope for the best. And that’s not a great security strategy, but that is where we are.
Yeah, that’s all I got back

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