Some Telegram channels claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin, upon his visit to Pyongyang, said he would supply the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, the official name of North Korea) with aircraft and missiles if the West were to transfer F-16s to Ukraine and enable strikes inside Russia with Western weapons.

However, while the new agreement signed by Moscow and Pyongyang did specify potential “mutual assistance in case of aggression against one of the parties,” and Putin did criticize Western F-16 deliveries to Ukraine in a statement, the two are not necessarily related.

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Screenshot of the update from a Ukrainian Telegram channel

“The Russian Federation will supply the DPRK with aircraft and missiles if the F-16 is transferred to Ukraine and attacks on Russian territory are allowed with American weapons,” one such announcement read, citing an alleged speech from Putin.

Kyiv Post found no evidence of the statement made by Putin, and the report is likely an extrapolation and an attempt to draw connections between two developing stories.

Is Russia providing weapons to North Korea?

As Kyiv Post reported earlier, Putin simply said he “does not rule out the development” of military-technical cooperation with North Korea, making no mention of the specifics.

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Though Ukraine’s membership was not on the agenda, NATO pledged long-term aid for Ukraine even as future US continued participation in the Alliance remains uncertain.

He also called the new strategic treaty a “breakthrough document,” adding that it provided, “among other things, for mutual assistance in case of aggression against one of the parties to this treaty.”

In short, there’s no certainty that Russia will provide North Korea with aircraft and missiles – which is unlikely anyway since at present, it’s Pyongyang that supplies Moscow with artillery and missiles, not the other way round due to Moscow’s constrained resources.

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What did Putin say?

Following his negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, Putin called the West’s military aid for Ukraine, including the F-16 multirole fighters and the recent greenlight on strikes against targets in Russia using Western weapons, a violation of unspecified international obligations.

“This is not just a statement, this is already happening, and all this is a gross violation of the restrictions assumed by Western countries within the framework of various international obligations,” said Putin, as reported by Radio Liberty.

However, he did not specify what international obligations they violated. 

There was no mention of weapon transfers to North Korea in relation to his criticism. The criticism itself is also nothing new – on March 28, Putin threatened to attack third countries that host Ukraine’s upcoming F-16 fighters, calling them “legitimate targets” for Russia.

“Of course, if they are used from airfields of third countries, they become a legitimate target for us, no matter where they are,” he said.

In short, Putin is not giving North Korea aircraft and missiles in retaliation for Western aid to Ukraine. In fact, it’s likely that North Korea is giving Russia weapons to sustain the latter’s war in Ukraine.

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