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This week, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressed “full support” for Russian President Vladimir Putin during a summit in Russia, highlighting their nations’ relationship as a “top priority,” NPR reported. During a meeting in Russia’s Far East, Putin offered Kim technological support for launching a satellite into space and suggested potential military cooperation with Pyongyang. The meeting underscores the alignment of interests between the two nations both facing Western sanctions, prompting speculation of arms deals between them. South Korean intelligence believes Russia has already raised the possibility of a three-way naval exercise with North Korea and China. While the summit did not publicly mention missile cooperation, both satellites and missiles rely on dual-use rocket technology.
Also this week:
- NATO is preparing for its largest live joint-command exercise since the Cold War, involving more than 40,000 troops, the Financial Times reported. The Steadfast Defender exercise seeks to simulate a response to Russian aggression against a NATO country, transitioning the alliance from crisis response to a war stance. Scheduled for next spring, these military drills will utilize real-world geographical data for more realistic scenarios and involve 32 nations, including Sweden. It forms part of NATO’s shift toward heavier military capabilities and intends to increase high-readiness forces to more than 300,000 personnel, while also enhancing regional defense plans.
- At the same time, Armenia and the United States initiated joint military exercises this week aimed at preparing Armenian forces for international peacekeeping missions, Radio Free Europe reported. The Eagle Partner 2023 exercises have raised concerns in Moscow amid escalating tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Armenia has accused Russia of failing to protect it against Azerbaijani aggression. Observers said these military exercises may signify Armenia’s attempts to distance itself from Russian influence and signal dissatisfaction with Moscow’s role in the region.
- During a forum in the far-eastern city of Vladivostok, Putin admitted that the Soviet invasions of Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 were wrong, the BBC added. The Russian leader emphasized the need to avoid foreign policies that harm the interests of other nations. These comments contrast with some views within his inner circle: A recent history textbook by one of his advisers portrayed the 1956 Hungarian Revolution as a fascist uprising organized by the West.
- Torture committed by Russian officers against Ukrainian civilians and prisoners of war indicates a systematic, state-endorsed policy, according to United Nations representatives, the New York Times wrote. The UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Alice Jill Edwards, said witnesses have provided credible accounts of a consistent pattern of torture, including rape and beatings, in different detention facilities under Russian occupation and among Ukrainian soldiers captured by Russian forces. Edwards emphasized that this is not random behavior but part of a state policy to intimidate, instill fear, or extract information and confessions. Moscow denies practicing torture, but its refusal to address the issue implies tacit approval, officials said. Edwards also highlighted the need for Ukraine to address sexual violence against women and improve investigation and support mechanisms.
- Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva withdrew his personal assurance that President Putin would not be arrested if he attended the G20 summit in Rio de Janeiro next year, saying it would be up to the judiciary to decide, Al Jazeera noted. He previously said that if Putin came to Brazil, he wouldn’t be arrested. His statement came after Putin missed this year’s G20 summit in India to avoid potential political backlash and arrest due to an International Criminal Court (ICC) warrant issued in March, accusing him of unlawfully deporting Ukrainian children, which Russia denies. Brazil is an ICC signatory due to the Rome Statute, which led to the court’s formation.