Putin’s trip to North Korea, Vietnam weakens U.S. imperialism

Russian President Vladimir Putin received a warm welcome when he visited the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on June 19 to meet with Kim Jong Un, who is general secretary of the Workers Party and DPRK president. Workers and soldiers of all ages greeted the Russian president with music and colorful balloons, as well as flags of both countries. Images of the two leaders hung side by side over the large, enthusiastic crowd, and it was the first high-level state visit to the DPRK since 2020.

Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin meet in Pyongyang, DPRK, June 2024.

The primary focus of the conversation between Putin and Kim was that of mutual self-defense against U.S. and imperialist aggression. Washington war hawks have used more than $50 billion to fund their proxy war against Moscow — where Ukraine is being used as a battlefield. At the same time, the U.S. is also encouraging an aggressive alliance with reactionary leaders of South Korea and Japan against the DPRK. Washington has been the driving force raising tensions between socialist Pyongyang and capitalist Seoul in recent months.

Despite economic and political differences, Russia and the DPRK have a common enemy in U.S. imperialism. The two countries signed a comprehensive partnership agreement on June 19 that includes a pledge to “provide mutual assistance in case of aggression.” (NBC news, June 20).  

The agreement requires both countries to provide immediate military assistance if one of them becomes the subject of armed aggression. The agreement further says that if either country is invaded or pushed into a state of war, the other must deploy “all means at its disposal without delay” to provide “military and other assistance.” This agreement thus raises the possibility that a U.S. strike on the DPRK could draw a Russian response. (NBC news, June 20).

In response to the visit and mutual agreement, the vehemently right-wing government in Seoul stated it would consider providing lethal military aid to the Western-backed government of Ukraine. One day after the state visit, South Korean National Security adviser Chang Ho-Jin was recorded saying that they “plan to reconsider the issue of arms support to Ukraine.” (NBC News, June 21)

Putin publicly responded to the South Korean regime’s threats, warning them that, “If this happens, then we will also make appropriate decisions that the current leadership of South Korea would hardly like. We reserve our right to supply weapons to other regions of the world.” 

President of South Korea Yoon Suk Yeol has been a strong supporter of the U.S.-led proxy war against Russia since February 2022, but all of Seoul’s aid to the puppet government of Kiev up until now has allegedly been “non-lethal.” The socialist government of DPRK, on the other hand, has publicly sided with Russia since its 2022 intervention provoked by NATO’s expansion.

Putin also visits socialist Vietnam

Following the meeting in Pyongyang, Putin attended another meeting with Communist Party leaders of socialist Vietnam. When he entered the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, Putin was greeted by workers, farmers and soldiers of different generations and by a 21-gun salute at the historical site of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long.

Putin’s visit with Vietnamese President To Lam did include a brief discussion regarding the U.S. and NATO-led proxy war in Ukraine. Much like the DPRK, socialist Vietnam has expressed opposition to the imperialist attacks against Russia. For example, the Communist leaders of Hanoi skipped out on the recent Ukraine peace summit held in Switzerland. Vietnam also abstained on four United Nations resolutions condemning Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, and they voted against the motion to remove Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The conference between Putin and To Lam concentrated on shared cooperation regarding resources, including renewable energy and social services. The meeting concluded with at least 12 publicly announced agreements involving education, technology and scientific projects.  

During the Hanoi visit, Putin also paid tribute to the late Vietnamese revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh by visiting his honorary mausoleum. With Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh standing by his side, Putin gave a speech where he highlighted the historical solidarity between the two countries, dating back to the days of the Soviet Union. 

 “The Soviet Union, as you noted, provided effective assistance in the heroic struggle of the Vietnamese people against the French and then American invaders, and subsequently contributed to the peaceful construction of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,” Putin said.  (New York Times, June 20)

Alliance against imperialism

Prior to the recent trips to DPRK and Vietnam, Putin conducted a two-day visit in China in late May. In addition to meeting with Xi Jinping, Putin also met with students at the Harbin Institute of Technology, known for its defense research and its work with the People’s Liberation Army. 

Unlike China, the DPRK and Vietnam, Russia is not a socialist country, and therefore, it does not have a centrally planned economy spearheaded by a pro-working class political party. Russia has been a capitalist country since the counterrevolution in the former Soviet Union in 1991.

U.S. foreign policy since 1992 has explicitly planned U.S. economic and military hegemony in all world regions, which meant planning to weaken and divide Russia so that it could never compete as a rival capitalist power. This included expanding the U.S.-commanded NATO up to the Russian border, conflicts with Russian allies in West Asia and the overthrow of a government in Ukraine in 2014 that was friendly to Moscow.

Putin’s recent trip shows that Russian diplomacy is successfully countering U.S. imperialism’s aggressive policies.   

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