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China, Russia commemorate 'victory' of Korean War, giving message of alignment against Ukraine

Pyongyang [North Korea], July 28 (ANI): Delegations from Russia and China, which were North Korea's key allies in the Korean War, gathered in Pyongyang this week to celebrate North Korea's "Victory Day" in the war that ravaged the Korean Peninsula seven decades ago, CNN reported. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gave Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu a tour of a defence exposition in Pyongyang on Wednesday, with images from North Korean media showing them walking past an array of weaponry, from Pyongyang's nuclear-capable ballistic missiles to its newest drones. At a state reception for Shoigu and the Russian delegation, in reference to the war in Ukraine, North Korean Defense Minister Kang Sun Nam expressed Pyongyang's full support "for the just struggle of the Russian army and people to defend the sovereignty and security of the country," CNN reported citing a report from the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). While giving his remarks, Shoigu said the Korean People's Army (KPA) has "become the strongest army in the world" and pledged continued cooperation to keep it that way. In another event on Wednesday, at a reception for the Chinese delegation led by Politburo member, Li Hongzhong, senior North Korean official Kim Song Nam thanked Chinese forces for joining in the Korean War, saying North Korea"would not forget forever the heroic feats and merits of the bravery soldiers who recorded a brilliant page in the history." Commenting on the presence of the Chinese and Russian delegations at the armistice anniversary, Ankit Panda, Stanton senior fellow in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said, that this"underscores the importance Pyongyang attaches to its relationships with both countries." "Shoigu's presence is particularly notable: a sign of just how close Pyongyang and Moscow have become since Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year," CNN quoted Panda as saying. However, Blake Herzinger, a research fellow at the United States Studies Center in Australia, pointed out that the gathering in Pyongyang also illustrates a"weakness".

"It's really representative of how short both China and Russia's lists of friends are, and the willingness of both to show support for a rogue regime," CNN quoted Herzinger as saying.

North Korea draws old associations with both China and Russia, since the time of the Korean War.

During the war, which Beijing calls the"War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea", more than 180,000 Chinese troops died.

Russia's predecessor, the Soviet Union, also supported North Korea during the war, with combat support like Soviet aircraft engaging US jets and with supplies of heavy weaponry like tanks.

Despite Pyongyang's claims of a victory, the war it launched in 1950 ended in a stalemate, with the current demilitarized zone along the 38th parallel in much the same location as it was before the war, CNN reported.

The Korean War armistice was signed on July 27, 1953, ending hostilities although a true peace deal has never been signed.

The US, which anchored the UN Command that supported South Korea, after the war, kept a large contingent of troops in the South at a range of Army and air bases. The US' Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, is the largest overseas US military base, CNN reported.

Meanwhile, Moscow over the decades has been a staunch ally of North Korea, especially as the two share a joint animosity toward the West.

The same can also be said for the Chinese Communist Party, especially under China's current leader Xi Jinping.

Panda further noted how both Moscow and Beijing, permanent members of the UN Security Council, have defended Pyongyang's interests before the world body as Western powers led by the US have tried to put further sanctions on North Korea, CNN reported.

According to CNN, the"three authoritarian nuclear powers" are putting up a united front over Ukraine, a former Soviet state which Moscow invaded in February 2022 after President Vladimir Putin declared it was historically Russian territory.

However, the special military operation soon stumbled as Ukrainians put up a fierce defence and as Western powers scrambled to send weapons and ammunition to Kyiv while Moscow burned through its own stocks and looked to allies like Iran and North Korea to resupply, CNN reported.

US officials had said last year that North Korea was selling millions of rockets and artillery shells to Russia for use on the battlefield in Ukraine.

Although China has not supplied Russia with weaponry, it has remained steadfastly in Moscow's corner as the war in Ukraine drags into its 18th month, with Xi deepening his relationship with Putin and echoing the Kremlin's rhetoric over the conflict.

After the brief mutiny in Russia by the Wagner mercenary group last month, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson expressed support for the Putin regime.

"As Russia's friendly neighbour and comprehensive strategic partner of coordination for the new era, China supports Russia in maintaining national stability and achieving development and prosperity," CNN quoted in an online statement.

Meanwhile, the Russian and Chinese militaries have been active in the waters off the Korean Peninsula, with their latest joint exercise, Northern/Interaction-2023, bringing together naval and air forces from both countries in drills aiming to"strengthen both sides' capabilities of jointly safeguarding regional peace and stability and responding to various security challenges," CNN reported citing People's Liberation Army's English website.

The exercises between the Korean Peninsula and Japan in the waters, occurred as South Korea and the US were conducting military displays of their own, including a US Navy nuclear-capable ballistic missile submarine making a port call in South Korea for the first time in four decades, CNN reported. (ANI)