Putin's Secret Plan: Is North Korea Plotting A Major Disruption Before U.S. Election?

By Alan Hume | Sunday, 26 May 2024 08:30 PM
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Image Credit : Photo by John Smith for Reuters

As the United States presidential election approaches in November, senior U.S. officials are bracing for potential military provocations from North Korea, possibly instigated by Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a report by NBC News.

The officials, who remain anonymous, suggest that such actions could be a strategic move to sow global chaos as the US election process intensifies.

"We have no doubt that North Korea will be provocative this year. It's just a matter of how escalatory it is," a U.S. intelligence official was quoted as saying. In response to the report, a spokesperson for the Trump campaign stated, "The only 'October surprise' will be the look of shock" among journalists when Trump secures reelection.

This warning from U.S. officials precedes a probable meeting between North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un and Putin. Earlier this week, the Kremlin announced that preparations for this meeting were underway. "President Putin has an active invitation for an official visit to North Korea. The visit is being prepared. We will announce the dates of the trip in due course," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told the French news agency AFP.

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The relationship between Russia and North Korea has grown stronger since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. North Korea has reportedly sent munitions to Moscow, ostensibly to aid Putin's forces in their conflict with Ukraine, but also to test its equipment on the battlefield, as per the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.

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In exchange, North Korea "expects Russia to provide advanced weapons systems and technological know-how to significantly strengthen its defense, nuclear, and space programs," the think tank reported.

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The Biden administration is reportedly concerned that this alliance could lead to significant advancements in Pyongyang's nuclear capabilities, thereby escalating tensions in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the six US officials who spoke to NBC News. However, one official suggested that China likely does not want instability in the region, which might cause Russia to hesitate before getting involved ahead of the US election.

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Rachel Minyoung Lee, a Senior Fellow with the 38 North Program at the Stimson Center, voiced concerns that North Korea's strengthening ties with Russia could "embolden" Kim to take more aggressive military or diplomatic actions in the future.

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North Korea has already supplied a significant amount of military aid to Russia. By November 2023, a South Korean lawmaker reported that North Korea had sent over 1 million artillery shells to Moscow to support its war effort.

However, earlier this month, the office of Ukraine's top prosecutor, Andriy Kostin, told Reuters that weapons supplied by North Korea appeared to have a high failure rate. "About half of the North Korean missiles lost their programmed trajectories and exploded in the air; in such cases the debris was not recovered," Kostin's office said, citing their examination of debris from 21 of about 50 North Korean-supplied ballistic missiles launched by Russia between late December and late February.

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