October 7, 2022

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Pyongyang and Moscow express interest in sending North Korean workers to rebuild eastern Ukraine

Pyongyang and Moscow express interest in sending North Korean workers to rebuild eastern Ukraine

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North Korea It is hinting that it is interested in sending construction workers to Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine to aid the Kremlin’s efforts to rebuild in war-ravaged areas as its invasion of Ukraine enters its seventh month.

Pyongyang’s ambassador to Moscow recently met with envoys from two Russian-backed separatist regions in Ukraine’s Donbas region and expressed optimism about cooperation in the “field of labor migration,” citing his country’s loosening of epidemic border controls.

The idea has been publicly endorsed by top Russian officials and diplomats, who expect a cheap, hard-working workforce that can be thrown into “the most difficult circumstances,” a term used by Russia’s ambassador to North Korea in a recent interview.

Rebecca KovlerD., a former CIA intelligence officer who focused on Russia and author of “Putin’s Playbook: Russia’s Secret Plan to Defeat America,” told Fox News Digital that Putin, from an optics point of view, is trying to show that Russia is not completely isolated and still has friends in the world. The world despite the strict sanctions and pressure caused by the invasion of Ukraine.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shake hands during their meeting in Vladivostok, Russia.
(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)

“From a practical point of view, it makes sense for Putin to use these workers because who else will go? Because these are very precarious conditions in the Donbass and,” Koffler said. the Russian army He’s already having trouble recruiting people to go fight there.”

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The talks came after North Korea in July became the only country except Russia and Syria to recognize the independence of Ukraine’s breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, further allying with Russia over the conflict in Ukraine.

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A man walks on a street in Severodonetsk, eastern Ukraine, after a bombing

A man walks on a street in Severodonetsk, eastern Ukraine, after a bombing
(Photo by Fadel Sina/AFP via Getty Images)

It is clear that the employment of North Korean workers in Donbass will conflict with UN Security Council Sanctions imposed on North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs further complicate US-led international pressure for denuclearization.

Many experts suspect North Korea will send workers while the war is still in flux, with a steady stream of Western weapons helping Ukraine fend off larger Russian forces, but they say it’s very likely North Korea will supply labor to Donbass when the fighting subsides. . to boost its economy.

Human rights groups have reported over the past several years about North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un Shipping tens of thousands From his poor countrymen to Russian labor camps to generate money for his regime.

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This photo taken on September 3, 2017, and published by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 4, 2017, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attending a meeting.

This photo taken on September 3, 2017, and published by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 4, 2017, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attending a meeting.
(STR/AFP via Getty Images)

A report issued in 2017 by based in Seoul The North Korea Human Rights Database Center estimated that about 50,000 North Korean workers are employed in low-paying jobs in Russia. They send at least $120 million each year to the regime in Pyongyang.

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It’s unclear what kind of workers would likely be sent to eastern parts of Ukraine to help with Russia’s reconstruction efforts, but Koffler told Fox News Digital that it was “highly likely” that the work assignment would be “mandatory” for North Koreans selected for work. he goes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report