Academics say Russia’s backing of North Korea serves several strategic purposes, such as projecting Russia’s image as an international broker and reinforcing its image at home as a great power.
Still, it’s likely to remain murky just how Moscow develops its relationship with Pyongyang.
Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein, a researcher with the Foreign Policy Research Institute who tracks North Korea’s economy, told CNBC via email that “at the end of the day, it’s very hard to say for sure exactly what sort of trade North Korea conducts, and with whom.”
“North Korea’s trade with countries other than China, in various forms, is probably much greater than we tend to recognize. That with Russia especially may well come to increase in the coming few years depending on how the international environment develops,” he said.