Troops from North Korea could join the invasion of Ukraine under a new pact with Russia, experts warned last night.

The chilling prospect of waves of Kim Jong Un’s military flooding into the battered nation emerged after the dictator signed a defence agreement with Vladimir Putin in Pyongyang yesterday.

The Russian president was on a two-day state visit to North Korea, where he was greeted enthusiastically by tens of thousands of well-wishers.


During events yesterday, the two despots embraced and – according to North Korea state media – shared ‘pent-up innermost thoughts’ as they were driven to the Kumsusan state guest house.

Footage of Putin’s welcome ceremony in Pyongyang showed an honor guard and a crowd of civilians gathered in the Kim Il Sung Square by the Taedong River.

Children waved balloons in celebration, and the square was adorned with huge portraits of the two leaders and their national flags. Streets of the city were lined with images of Putin, and the facade of the unfinished Ryugyong Hotel was emblazoned with the message: ‘Welcome Putin’.

Analysts agree that the arrival of thousands of Kim’s soldiers on Russia’s front line would be a game-changer in the conflict, significantly strengthening the Kremlin’s hand. North Korea is also expected to supply Russia with a further five million ammunition rounds – having already supplied as much in recent months.

Last night, former British Army intelligence expert Philip Ingram said: ‘I do think North Korea probably will supply troops as part of the new defence pact. This is very worrying. They will add numbers but how adaptable they will prove on the battlefield remains to be seen.

‘Russia’s tactics have been so primitive, sacrificing vast numbers of soldiers in the so-called ‘meat grinder’. The Kremlin is probably more interested in quantity of personnel rather than quality.’ Meanwhile, ex-British Army commander Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon suggested Kim could exchange soldiers for nuclear technology.

He said: ‘It would show how absolutely desperate they both are; Putin for troops and Kim for knowledge.’ North Korea’s People’s Army is believed to consist of up to 1.3 million active personnel. The majority are engaged in the country’s historic stand-off with South Korea.

After suffering some 500,000 casualties in Ukraine, Russia needs to bolster its front-line forces. The arrival of North Korean troops would further reduce Ukraine’s chances of reclaiming its eastern provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk, which Russia has held since early 2022.

Putin and Kim’s pact includes a joint obligation to intervene on each other’s part in any conflict. This could see Russia supporting North Korea against South Korea.

With no formal text being made public, however, its implications remain open to interpretation. Kim told reporters the country would respond ‘without hesitation’ to threats facing North Korea or Russia.


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