North Korea recognizes Donetsk and Luhansk regions as independent News
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North Korea recognizes Donetsk and Luhansk regions as independent

North Korea’s government Wednesday recognized two breakaway states claiming internationally-recognized Ukrainian territory as independent. North Korea is the third country to recognize the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic, after Russia and Syria. Ukraine, and much of the international community, recognizes them as part of Ukraine. On February 22, two days before Russia invaded Ukraine, it recognized Donetsk and Luhansk. Later the same day, Russian president Vladimir Putin moved troops to the regions. A controversial 2014 Referendum showed that close to 90 percent of Donetsk voters, and 96 percent of Luhansk voters, voted for independence.

Since Russia’s invasion in February, North Korea has defended Russia and has blamed the invasion on the United States. At an April UN General Assembly vote to suspend Russia’s membership in the UN Human Rights Council, North Korea voted against the measure. North Korea joined 23 other countries, including Russia and several former Soviet Republics, in doing so.

Ukraine cut diplomatic ties with North Korea soon after the recognition. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union supported North Korea’s government for decades, and relations between North Korea and Russia remain relatively stable. For example, all North Korean leaders have visited Russia, even when they shunned and have been shunned by many other countries. In May, during Russia’s Victory Day, North Korean leader Kim Jung Un congratulated President Putin. He hoped relations with Russia would “strengthen and develop.”