North Korea and Russia strengthen ties as Kyiv strikes Black Sea warships

US secretary of state says rise of ‘authoritarian’ powers marks end of post-Cold War order

North Korea has pledged full support for Moscow in its fight against western “evil” in Ukraine, as Kyiv’s missiles struck Russian warships in the Black Sea and the United States said the rise of “authoritarian” powers had ended the post-Cold War order in international relations.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un met Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Wednesday at the Vostochny space rocket launch centre in eastern Russia, where they discussed co-operation in a range of fields including satellite technology.

Analysts say Pyongyang is seeking Russian expertise after failing at least twice this year to launch military spy satellites, and may also hope to secure Moscow’s assistance for its missile and submarine programmes.

In exchange, North Korea is expected to tap its large stockpile of Soviet-era arms and send ammunition to Russia, which wants to restock its arsenal 18 months into its all-out invasion of pro-western Ukraine.


Mr Kim hailed Moscow’s decades-long role in supporting his country and said bilateral relations would only grow stronger, before raising a glass at lunch to toast Mr Putin’s health and what he said would be victory for “great Russia” in its “sacred fight” with the West.

“I firmly believe that the heroic Russian army and people will brilliantly inherit their victories and traditions and vigorously demonstrate their noble dignity and honour on the two fronts of military operations and building a powerful nation,” Mr Kim told his host.

“The Russian army and people will certainly win a great victory in the sacred struggle for the punishment of a great evil that claims hegemony and feeds an expansionist illusion.”

The leaders met hours after North Korea test-fired two ballistic missiles into the sea off its coast, angering South Korea and Japan, and Ukraine attacked the Crimean port of Sevastopol, home to Russia’s Black Sea fleet, with cruise missiles and marine drones.

Russian officials said seven of the cruise missiles and all three marine drones were intercepted, and that two unnamed warships suffered unspecified damage in the attack, which also injured 24 people.

Kyiv officials, and at least one Russian blogger with close ties to his country’s military, said a large landing ship and a diesel-powered submarine were hit, dealing a blow to a fleet that launches almost nightly missile attacks on Ukrainian cities.

“While the occupiers are still recovering from the night-time bombardment in Sevastopol, I would like to thank the pilots of the Ukrainian air force for their excellent combat work! To be continued ...” Mykola Oleshchuk, commander of the Ukrainian air force, wrote on social media.

He also praised Ukrainian air defence units for shooting down more than 30 Russian attack drones over the southern Odesa region in the early hours of Wednesday.

British media reported that the strike on Sevastopol employed Storm Shadow cruise missiles, an air-launched rocket supplied to Kyiv by the UK.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak called the operation “a professional and meaningful ‘statement’” and said “the demilitarisation of the Russian Black Sea fleet is a real long-term guarantee of security” for civilian shipping in the region, amid a renewed Russian blockade on grain shipments from Ukraine’s ports.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that “what we are experiencing now is more than a test of the post-Cold War order. It’s the end of it. Decades of relative geopolitical stability have given way to an intensifying competition with authoritarian, revisionist powers.

“Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine is the most immediate and acute threat to the international order enshrined in the UN charter and its core principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence,” he added.

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin is a contributor to The Irish Times from central and eastern Europe