Russia North Korea ties
A combination photo of Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un Reuters

North Korea and Russia are planning to conduct a joint military drill and boost their improving bilateral relations.

The Russian defence ministry has confirmed that proposals to carry out a military exercise with the reclusive nation are in the pipeline.

"We are planning an expansion of the communication lines of our military central command," said Valery Gerasimov, the chief of staff of the Russian armed forces.

"We are entering preliminary negotiations with the armed forces of Brazil, Vietnam, Cuba and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. We are going to conduct a series of joint naval and air force exercises, as well as joint drills of our ground troops and air assault troops."

The drill, will be widely seen as a show of strength against the US and South Korea as the two countries conduct frequent military manoeuvres .

North Korea, clamped by severe economic sanctions over its contentious nuclear activities, has been desperately looking for avenues to set up partnerships. Similarly, Russia, which also faces international isolation over its stance on Ukraine crisis, has been pushed to look for new friends.

"Russia is well-aware of the detrimental influence North Korea could have if Russia lets it beef up its military capacities—nuclear and rocket technologies, a possible connection with al-Qaeda, etc," a Seoul-based expert on North Korean affairs Yune Hyeong-jin told NK News.

"Russia doesn't seem to be interested in modernising North Korean weaponry, which can make the North more dangerous. As it already does with China and even with South Korea on a smaller scale, I don't."

By 2020, Moscow intends to increase annual trade with North Korea to $1bn, Russia's Far East Development Ministry had said in March 2014. Among areas identified for potential cooperation were Pyongyang's mining, automobile and electricity sectors.

There are also reports which speculated that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may visit Russia in May this year.