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Kim-Putin deal may kick off a new and dangerous superpower competition

Is it checkmate? When the Kremlin announced Russian President Vladimir Putin’s state visit to North Korea, the West was sceptical about what would be accomplished. The “ceiling” on the visit appeared to be the continued flow of North Korean weapons to Russia. The possibility that Russia and North Korea would do more was pushed aside. Few people seemed to be connecting the dots.

Russia has signed effectively the same deal with North Korea. A new kind of superpower competition may have begun, where the US and Russia are dangling their “ace card” in front of nations, pledging to defend them in wartime, to bring these countries into their corner. And there is little stopping others, like China, from introducing similar arrangements.


Putin, Kim sign ‘strongest ever’ defence treaty amid growing tensions with the West

It further pulls the world back into a pre-World War I set-up, where the zigzag of defence treaties across Europe forced the great powers to fight one another.

A future Korean war must be averted at all costs. In effect, the North Korea-Russia deal could act as a deterrent and ensure the stand-off between North and South Korea, which never formally ended, remains “frozen” for a long time, because of fear of what could result from war breaking out.


Xi Jinping hails ‘new chapter’ for China’s relations with Serbia as Belgrade backs his global vision

These two streams – Russia dangling its military protection and pulling nations into its orbit – point to a threefold goal: build a new kind of Russian power, take on the West and ensure Russia has “strategic autonomy” from China.

The landmark deal between Russia and North Korea represents a new chapter in geopolitics. The old contours of the Cold War are returning.