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North Korea’s Pursuit of Technology in Russia Amid Sanctions: A Blend of Desperation and Diplomacy

North Korea is heavily reliant on Russian technology for various purposes including nuclear weapons development, satellite development, and food production. The relationship between North Korea and Russia has become closer since Russia faced international sanctions after invading Ukraine in 2022. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un recently visited Russia and held a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, showing the growing closeness between the two countries. Despite the threat of further international sanctions, both North Korea and Russia are willing to overlook this in order to pursue their mutual interests. North Korea has resorted to cyber theft to obtain Russian technology, exploiting Russia’s preoccupation with the conflict in Ukraine. The cyber attacks targeted Russian military enterprises, aerospace research facilities, and academic institutions engaged in research. North Korean hackers also infiltrated Russian satellite development company SPUTNIX and missile manufacturer Almaz-Antey, stealing sensitive information. These cyber activities have likely played a crucial role in advancing North Korea’s space technology and missile program. Despite the precarious nature of their alliance, both North Korea and Russia are desperate for military technology and appear willing to tolerate each other’s actions in exchange for their respective needs.

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