North Korea recognizes two Russian-backed breakaway regions in Ukraine: State media

North Korea is now the third country, after Russia and Syria, to recognize the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic as independent states.

Ji Da-gyum

Ji Da-gyum

The Korea Herald


North Korean flags at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun where the embalmed bodies of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il are displayed. Photo taken in Pyongyang, North Korea on April 15 2018. (Getty Images)

July 15, 2022

SEOUL – North Korea has formally recognized two Russian-supported breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent states and pledged to develop “state-to-state relations” with them. In response, Ukraine has severed diplomatic relations with North Korea.

North Korea’s Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui announced the country’s decision to recognize the independence of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) in letters sent to their foreign ministers on Wednesday, the state-run media Korean Central News Agency reported on Thursday.

Choe also “expressed the intention of the government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to develop the state-to-state relations with the countries in accordance with the idea of independence, peace, and friendship,” KCNA said in a Korean-language dispatch.

North Korea is now the third country, after Russia and Syria, to recognize the DPR and LPR — which have been under the control of pro-Russian separatists — as independent states. The DPR and LPR in Ukraine’s Donbas region declared their independence in 2014 and organized self-proclaimed referendums.

North Korean Ambassador to Russia Shin Hong-chol handed over a document regarding the government’s decision to self-proclaimed DPR Ambassador to Russia Olga Makeeva during an in-person meeting on Wednesday, the DPR Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in its Telegram post on that day.

“Olga Makeeva expressed her confidence that the cooperation between the states, which has become official since that day, will be productive and mutually beneficial,” the ministry said. “The parties also agreed on further steps to establish diplomatic relations.”

North Korea’s move to align with Russia and the two breakaway entities has brought a countermove and blistering criticism from Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it would cut diplomatic relations with North Korea in an English-language statement on Wednesday.

The ministry dismissed North Korea’s decision as an attempt to “undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, a gross violation of the Constitution of Ukraine, the UN Charter and the fundamental norms and principles of the international law.”

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also lambasted Russia for soliciting North Korea’s support, warning that Russia would soon be isolated from the international community at a level comparable to North Korea.

“Russia’s appeal to the DPRK for support in legitimizing the forceful seizure of a part of the Ukrainian territory speaks more about Moscow’s toxicity than Pyongyang‘s,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in the statement.

Kuleba also pledged that the Ukrainian government “will continue to respond swiftly and resolutely to any encroachment on its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

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