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Editorial of the Day (22nd June): New Cold War

Context

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un signed a security pact in Pyongyang, promising mutual assistance in the event of aggression.
  • The pact revives memories of the Cold War era, marking a significant shift in the geopolitical landscape.

Background

  • Russia and North Korea were former allies during the Cold War.
  • Both countries are currently under severe sanctions: Russia due to the Ukraine war and North Korea for its nuclear program.
  • Both nations are at odds with Western countries and are seeking to bolster their alliance against the Western-led global order.
  • Putin’s visit to Pyongyang, his first in 24 years, symbolises a new beginning in Russia-North Korea relations.
  • Historically, Russia has supported international efforts to curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and has voted for UN sanctions against Pyongyang.

Recent Developments in Strengthening Ties Between Russia and North Korea

  • The ongoing war in Ukraine has shifted Russia’s geopolitical strategies.
  • As Western sanctions intensified, Russia sought support from North Korea, including ammunition and ballistic missiles.
  • Following Kim Jong-un’s visit to Russia in September 2023, North Korea reportedly supplied ammunition to Russia.
  • Mutual Support:
    • Russia increased its supplies of food and fuel to North Korea.
    • There is speculation that Russia might assist North Korea’s defence sector with critical technologies, although both nations deny any weapons trade.
  • Strengthening Ties:
    • The security pact elevates Russia-North Korea relations to a de facto alliance.
    • This move is part of Putin’s broader strategy to expand Russia’s cooperation with countries opposed to the U.S.
    • Russia has also engaged with Iran (buying kamikaze drones) and China (a key economic, technological, and energy partner).

Geopolitical Consequences

  • By aligning with North Korea, Russia signals its intent to play a more significant role in Northeast Asia.
  • North Korea, isolated and still technically at war with South Korea, gains substantial support from Russia.
  • This alliance reduces North Korea’s incentive to negotiate denuclearization.
  • Russia’s relationship with South Korea may deteriorate, and tensions with Japan could escalate further.

Regional and Global Implications:

  • The pact could strengthen the emerging tripartite partnership in East Asia among Japan, South Korea, and the U.S.
  • This development contributes to a new cold war dynamic between great powers, potentially leading to further geopolitical shifts.

Conclusion

  • The Russia-North Korea security pact marks a significant shift in global alliances.
  • Putin’s actions reflect his ambition to create an axis of countries opposed to the West.
  • This alliance could reshape geopolitical strategies and alliances in Northeast Asia and beyond.

About Cold War Era

  • The Cold War (1945-1991) was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union and its satellite states (Eastern Europe), and the United States with its allies (Western Europe) following World War II.
  • The world was divided into two power blocs dominated by the Soviet Union and the US, engaging in an ideological war between capitalism (USA) and communism (Soviet Union).
  • The term “Cold” is used because there was no direct large-scale fighting between the two sides, although they were involved in various proxy wars.

Editorial of the Day (22nd June): New Cold War_4.1

Superpowers and Alliances

  • The US led the Western bloc, including allies such as the UK and France.
  • The Soviet Union led the Eastern bloc, comprising Eastern European countries.

Soviet Union

  • Officially known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), it was established in 1922 as the world’s first Communist state.

Reasons for the Cold War

  • During World War II, the US, UK, and Soviet Union fought together against the Axis powers (Nazi Germany, Japan, Austria).
  • Post-war, the wartime alliance dissolved due to conflicting interests and ideologies.

Key Event – Potsdam Conference (1945)

  • Held in Berlin among the US, UK, and Soviet Union to discuss:
    • Administration of defeated Germany.
    • Demarcation of Poland’s boundary.
    • Occupation of Austria.
    • Role of the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe.
  • Disagreements emerged:
    • The Soviet Union wanted part of Poland as a buffer zone, which the US and UK opposed.
    • The US did not disclose the atomic bomb’s nature to the Soviet Union, creating suspicion and embittering the alliance.

Key Characteristics

  • Ideological Conflict: Between capitalist democracy (USA) and communist dictatorship (Soviet Union).
  • Arms Race: Significant build-up of nuclear arsenals and military capabilities.
  • Proxy Wars: Indirect conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and others.
  • Espionage: Extensive spying and intelligence activities by both sides.
  • Space Race: Competition for dominance in space exploration.

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