Alexander Lukashenko has expressed interest in creating a trilateral partnership with Russia and North Korea, amid rumors that Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un are negotiating an arms deal to support Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The Belarusian leader made the remarks during a summit with Putin in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, where the two held their seventh face-to-face meeting this year.
“I think we can think about three-way cooperation,” Lukashenko said. “North Korea, Russia. I know Koreans are very interested in you. I think you can also find work for Belarus there. Given the problems that exist.
Putin and Kim met earlier this week at the Vostochny cosmodrome in Russia’s far east. The closely watched summit was Kim’s first trip outside North Korea in four years.
Few details have been released about the negotiations, but Russia is reportedly seeking North Korean munitions despite U.N. sanctions banning arms sales to the Kim regime.
Kim is reportedly interested in Russian military and aerospace technology, including Russia’s assistance in launching North Korea’s own spy satellites, as well as technical assistance for North Korea’s ballistic missile program. North Korea is also seeking food and humanitarian aid due to food shortages that began due to its Covid isolation regime.
Putin appeared to deny Friday that Russia was considering violating U.N. sanctions by agreeing to an arms deal with North Korea.
“Korea is our neighbor and we need to build good-neighborly relations with our neighbors in one way or another,” Putin said at a news conference after his talks with Lukashenko. “Yes, there are some specifics associated with the Korean Peninsula. We discuss it openly; we never violate anything; and in this case, we are not going to violate anything. But we will of course look for opportunities to develop Russian-North Korean relations.”
Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, said no deals or arms sales were signed by the two leaders during the visit.
Yet Kim’s itinerary during his tour of the Russian Far East suggested that military cooperation was on the agenda. On Friday, he inspected a Russian fighter jet factory in the town of Komsomolsk-on-Amur, nearly 4,000 miles east of Moscow, which is under Western sanctions. Kim was photographed inspecting the cockpit of a modern Russian Su-57 fighter jet and also observed a test flight of a Su-35 aircraft. He will then travel to Russia to see the Russian Pacific Fleet and visit a university and other facilities.
The European Parliament earlier this week accused Lukashenko of being complicit in Russian war crimes in Ukraine and urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue an arrest warrant for the Belarusian leader.
A resolution passed Wednesday by lawmakers in Strasbourg said Lukashenko had “allowed” Russia’s war in Ukraine and bore “direct responsibility” for the resulting deaths and destruction.
It also accuses Lukashenko of helping Russia forcibly deport children from Ukraine to Russia, charges for which the ICC has already issued an arrest warrant for Putin and Russia’s children’s commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova.