In a sign of the changing geopolitical dynamics, Russia topped the rogue nation's list of friendly countries this year, with China in second place.
While Russia can never entirely replace China's influence over North Korea, it could interfere with measures employed by China, the U.S. or their allies to try to pressure Pyongyang, Stratfor continued.
"It is in Russia's interests to maintain North Korea as a buffer state between it and Western-allied South Korea and Japan."
Political leverage aside, there are other reasons driving Putin's interest in the isolated nation.
"Russia's main purpose in its ties with the DPRK are driven more by a Russian desire to develop and securitize its Far Eastern regions," noted Rinna. "Russia values its geographic access to North Korea as a way to reach broader global markets."
In the past, Putin's administration has criticized North Korea's nuclear weapons program and participated in 2014 sanctions but it's not clear if Moscow will continue down that path.
"As with the rest of the world, North Korea's nuclear proliferation concerns Russia, particularly since the North's nuclear weapons test site sits just 200 miles from Vladivostok," Stratfor explained.