Russia and North Korea keep getting closer.
The two nations will set up a bilateral business council, which will “improve the interaction of North Korean and Russian business communities,” the vice president of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vladimir Strashko said at a conference chaired by the head of Russia’s Ministry for the Development of the Far East, according to RIA Novosti.
They “will create the Business Council for the most comfortable collaboration and cooperation of the North Korean and Russian business communities as early as next week,” Strashko said.
North Korea and Russia reportedly “achieved results in extremely complicated bilateral issues”: North Korea has begun to issue multi-entry visas to Russian citizens, the first round of ruble settlements have been done, and negotiations are underway on the North Korean government’s formation of a special body to supervise joint projects with Russia, according to RIA Novosti.
The big takeaway here is that Russia and North Korea are increasingly strengthening their relationship.
Last week, Russia’s Ministry for the Development of the Far East announced that Russian businesses doing trade through North Korea’s Foreign Trade Bank could make payments in rubles. And before that back in October, the ministry announced that Russia was looking to expand economic changes with the hermit nation.
And even before all of this, the two countries already had a rather unique relationship: North Korea outsources its labour force to work in Siberia in an effort to generate hard currency, and the country’s military uses Soviet-era goods (for example: the hermit nation’s submarine fleet consists of “largely obsolete Soviet-era” vessels.) The two countries are also boosting military ties.
Basically, the new “bilateral business council” venture is another step in North Korea and Russia’s quiet, strategic diversification away from the West.