Russian President Vladimir Putin this week made a brief, but nevertheless historic visit to North Korea.

While the two countries have become much closer partners in recent months, few observers expected the trip to yield a “strategic partnership treaty” that looks like an alliance with actual security guarantees.

The new relationship is more the product of opprobrium than opportunity. Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are both international pariahs, struggling to find ways to shore up their increasingly isolated countries. The proper response to this move is an active campaign to denounce their efforts to undermine international law and institutions and intensified cooperation among Japan, the United States, South Korea and Europe.