South Korea and Germany Appoint New Ambassadors in Moscow

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu arrives in Pyongyang to participate with China in the 70th anniversary celebration of the end of the war between the two Koreas. Germany appoints Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, one of the major experts in the field of international relations, as the new German Ambassador to Moscow.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol has appointed former South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Do-hoon as Seoul’s new ambassador to Russia. South Korean news agency Yonhap recalled that “in the past, Lee Do-hoon also served as Seoul’s special envoy for nuclear issues.” The new ambassador of South Korea will replace Chang Ho-jin in Moscow, who was appointed the first deputy foreign minister of this Asian country.

The announcement was made on the day when a large Russian military delegation visited Pyongyang to participate, along with Chinese political leaders, in the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the end of the war between the two Koreas, officially called in North Korea the “Victory of the Korean people in the Liberation and Patriotic War of 1950-1953.” In those years, the Soviet Union helped the North Korean government, led by communist leader Kim Il Sung, with weapons, ammunition, and military specialists, while the USA sided with Seoul.

The Russian Defense Ministry stressed that Shoigu’s visit “will help strengthen military ties between Moscow and Pyongyang and will become an important step in developing cooperation between the two countries.” The visit of the Russian delegation, which will last until July 27, is also scheduled to have bilateral talks with Li Hongzhong, a member of the Central Political Committee of the Communist Party of China, who holds a leading position in the highest body of the National People’s Congress, as the Chinese people call the Parliament. According to Chinese media reports, in 2023-2024, the armed forces of Russia and China (CPLA) will conduct a series of joint military exercises “on land, in the air, and at sea.”

On June 12, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressed his full support and solidarity “with the people of Russia defending their national sovereignty in the historic battle against Western imperialists.”

It was on the eve of the celebrations that North Korea launched several missiles into the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan. The launches that have been heavily criticized by Japan followed joint military operations between South Korea and the USA, involving the American nuclear submarine USS Kentucky, which has not happened for several years.

At the UN Security Council session, Russia’s Deputy Representative Anna Evstigneeva urged the USA “to take concrete steps to resume a constructive dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang.”

Finally, another important change in Moscow’s diplomatic landscape concerns the appointment of Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, a former Liberal Democratic Party (FDP) MP in the Bundestag, as the new German ambassador to Russia. Lambsdorff replaced Geza Andreas von Geyr, who headed the German mission in the Moscow since 2019. On July 25, before leaving the Russian capital, von Geyr described the four years in Moscow as “extraordinary, adventurous, sometimes disappointing, often happy, but never boring.”

According to Der Spegel, Lambsdorff, 56, is “one of the most important foreign relations experts in the majority that forms the German federal government.” After receiving a diplomatic education, the aristocrat served from 1997 to 1998 in the planning department of the German Foreign Ministry. From 2000 to 2003, Lambsdorff worked at the German Embassy in Washington DC before returning to the department as a contact person for Russia. From 2004 to 2017, Lambsdorff was elected as a member of the European Parliament and also of the FDP where he was vice-president from 2014 until the end of his mandate. Elected to the Bundestag since 2017, Lambsdorff was vice-president of the Liberal Democrats group and was later appointed head of the German embassy in the Russian capital.

On July 1, before traveling to Moscow, Lambsdorff said that “the main conflict of the 21st century will take place between the USA and China,” and Germany must “choose which side of this conflict to be on.”