Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un Strengthen Ties Amid Global Tensions and US Warnings

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin visits North Korea for the first time in 24 years. Upon arrival in Pyongyang, he was welcomed with large banners, cheering crowds, and Russian flags.

Vladimir Putin meets North Korean leader Kim Jong-un
Vladimir Putin meets North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. (Photo:-X)

Vladimir Putin has arrived in North Korea for a summit with Kim Jong-un, despite US warnings against any deals that might increase military pressure on Ukraine and heighten tensions on the Korean peninsula.

This marks Putin’s first visit to the secretive nation since 2000. Upon arrival in Pyongyang, he was welcomed with large banners, cheering crowds, and Russian flags.

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The two leaders are expected to sign agreements to further solidify their relationship, which has grown stronger since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

“We greatly value your consistent and unwavering support for Russian policies, particularly regarding Ukraine,” Putin said at the start of their discussions, as reported by Russian state news agency RIA.

Kim, who met Putin in Vladivostok during a week-long visit to Russia last September, is one of the few leaders who has openly supported the war. Putin has described them as “comrades-in-arms” against Western sanctions.

The US and South Korea claim to have evidence that North Korea has supplied Russia with ballistic missiles and over 11,000 containers of munitions for use in Ukraine. In return, Kim has sought Russian assistance with food, energy, and his country’s space program.

Although both nations denied any arms deal during their previous summit, Putin expressed gratitude for North Korea’s support ahead of his current visit.

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On Wednesday, an honor guard including mounted soldiers and a large crowd of civilians gathered in Pyongyang’s main square, as shown in Russian media broadcasts. The scene included children with balloons and large portraits of the two leaders with national flags displayed on the Grand People’s Study Hall.

In an article published in North Korean media, Putin praised Kim for standing firm against UN security council sanctions, which were previously supported by Russia, aimed at curbing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

Despite longstanding US economic pressure, provocations, and military threats, Pyongyang has effectively defended its interests, Vladimir Putin wrote.

He also stated, “We will develop alternative mechanisms of trade and mutual settlements not controlled by the West, and we will jointly resist illegitimate unilateral restrictions. Together, we will build a security architecture of equality and indivisibility in Eurasia.”

North Korea’s KCNA news agency said Putin’s visit demonstrated that the relationship between the two nations “is growing stronger by the day” and would inject “new vitality” into their cooperative relations.

The US expressed concerns that the visit could impact security in Ukraine and on the Korean peninsula, where recent border tensions have risen.

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“We know North Korean ballistic missiles are still being used to hit Ukrainian targets, and there could be reciprocity that affects security on the Korean peninsula,” said John Kirby, spokesperson for the US national security council.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Putin’s visit highlighted his dependence on authoritarian leaders. “Russia’s main supporters in its war of aggression are North Korea, Iran, and China,” he stated.

The Russian delegation to Pyongyang reportedly includes Defense Minister Andrei Belousov, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the heads of Russia’s space agency and railways, and Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, Putin’s energy point man.

Bruce Bennett, a senior defense analyst at RAND Corporation, told South Korea’s Yonhap news agency that North Korea might promise to provide Russia with artillery, guided rockets for multiple rocket launchers, and short-range missiles to support its operations in Ukraine.

In exchange, Bennett added, North Korea would expect Russia to supply advanced technologies, a substantial flow of oil and food products, and hard currency payments.

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