N. Korea officially recognizes independence of 2 separatist regions in Ukraine
North Korea has formally recognized the independence of two pro-Russian separatist "people's republics" in eastern Ukraine, becoming the world's third nation to do so, according to the North's state media Thursday.
The North's Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui sent letters to her counterparts in the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic the previous day and recognized the entities, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said. Russia and Syria have already backed their independence.
"In the letters, she informed them that the DPRK government decided to recognize the independence of the People's Republic of Donetsk and the People's Republic of Lugansk and expressed the will to develop the state-to-state relations with those countries in the idea of independence, peace and friendship," it said in an English-language article. DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Earlier, Ukraine announced it severed diplomatic ties with North Korea over the move to recognize the separatist regions.
The North has recently stressed its close ties with Russia despite international condemnation of its invasion of Ukraine. Pyongyang has previously blamed the Ukraine crisis on the "hegemonic policy" of the United States and the West.
In a post on his Telegram channel, DPR leader Denis Pushilin said he hoped for "fruitful cooperation" and increased trade with North Korea, an isolated, nuclear-armed state more than 4,000 miles (6,500 km) away.
The DPR's Embassy in Moscow posted a photo on its Telegram channel of a ceremony in which North Korea's ambassador to Moscow, Sin Hong-Chol, handed a certificate of recognition to DPR envoy Olga Makeyeva.
North Korea's Embassy in Moscow confirmed it had recognized the independence of both entities on Wednesday, Russia's TASS news agency later reported.
Ukraine immediately severed relations with Pyongyang over the move.
But the recognition was welcomed by some Donetsk residents living in the self-proclaimed "republic."
"Of course I'm happy," said Olga, who declined to give her surname. "Let more countries recognize us, so that everybody knows we're here."
Anastasia, who also declined to give her surname, told Reuters the more countries that recognize the entities, the fewer chances Kyiv had of recapturing control of territory seized by the Russian-backed separatists and Russian armed forces. "Step by step we are joining the world stage," she said.
Russia, which has backed the regions since 2014, recognized them on the eve of its invasion of Ukraine in a move condemned by Kyiv and the West as illegal.
Russia justified its decision to launch the war, which it calls a "special military operation," by saying it was protecting Russian speakers who live there from "genocide."
Kyiv and the West have dismissed these assertions as a pretext for waging war and seizing swathes of Ukraine's territory.
North Korea previously expressed support for Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014.
The Kerea Herald And Reuters
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