South Korea summons Russian ambassador to protest pact between Moscow and Pyongyang

South Korea summoned the Russian ambassador on Friday as tensions rise with North Korea.  

South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Hong Kyun called in Russian Ambassador Georgy Zinoviev to protest the recently announced deal between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong Un.

They urged Moscow to immediately call off its alleged military cooperation with Pyongyang.

Earlier on Friday, Kim Yo Jung – the powerful sister of the North Korean leader – issued a vague threat of retaliation against South Korea. 

The threat came after South Korean activists flew balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border and the South Korean military said they had fired warning shots to repel North Korean soldiers the day before.  

Two days before, Moscow and Pyongyang had reached a pact vowing mutual defence assistance in the event of an attack on either nation.

In response, the South Korean government said it would consider providing weapons to Ukraine to fight Russia’s invasion.  

As Russia and North Korea move closer, China appears to be keeping its distance. 

Experts say Chinese leaders are likely concerned about the potential loss of influence over North Korea following the Russia/North Korea pact.  

China has not yet commented on the deal and has only reiterated statements that it hopes to uphold peace and stability in the region. 

Beijing’s response has been “very weak,” said Victor Cha, senior vice president for Asia and Korea chair at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, before adding that it might indicate their government is not yet sure what to do. 

“Every option is a bad option,” he said.

“You’re either unable to make a decision because of very strongly held competing views or you’re just incapable of making a decision because you just don’t know how to evaluate the situation.”  

The meeting between Putin and Kim this week was the latest chapter in decades of complicated political relationships in East Asia – where the Chinese Communist Party, once the underdog, has emerged as a leading power over both North Korea and Russia.  

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