Home » After Russia Meeting, Putin Accepts Kim’s Invite to North Korea

After Russia Meeting, Putin Accepts Kim’s Invite to North Korea

SEOUL – Russian President Vladimir Putin has accepted an invitation to visit North Korea, Pyongyang’s state media said Thursday, as Kim Jong Un wrapped up a rare trip to meet with his ally.

The isolated Kim, who seldom leaves his country and has not traveled since before the pandemic, held a “historic meeting and talks” with Putin on Wednesday, the Korean Central News Agency said.

Among the results of the leaders’ summit were Russian promises of help with North Korea’s fledgling space program, according to Russian news agencies, while Putin told reporters he saw “possibilities” for military cooperation.

Historic allies, Russia and the North are both under rafts of global sanctions — Moscow for its Ukraine conflict, Pyongyang for its nuclear tests — with Kim’s visit sparking U.S. concerns over illicit arms deals.

After touring a space center and attending a lavish banquet in his honor, Kim “courteously invited Putin to visit the DPRK at a convenient time,” KCNA said, referring to the country by its official name.

“Putin accepted the invitation with pleasure and reaffirmed his will to invariably carry forward the history and tradition of the Russia-DPRK friendship.”

Kim told Putin on Wednesday he was sure Russia would win a “great victory” over its enemies. He also said: “We will always be in Russia.”

“There took place a tete-a-tete between Kim Jong Un and Putin after the extended talks,” according to KCNA, and Kim left a message in a visitor’s book which read: “The glory of Russia that produced the first conquerors of space will be immortal.”

Kim Jong Un (center right) and Vladimir Putin (center left) leave a welcome banquet at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia's Amur region.

Kim Jong Un (center right) and Vladimir Putin (center left) leave a welcome banquet at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Amur region. | KCNA / VIA AFP-JIJI

Kim then headed to his next destination, KCNA said, with Putin earlier saying Pyongyang’s top leader would oversee a display of Russian warships in the far eastern city of Vladivostok to “demonstrate the capabilities of the Pacific Fleet.”

Western countries have repeatedly raised concerns of a possible arms agreement between Russia and North Korea, as Moscow’s war in Ukraine grinds on.

“The summit signals a seismic change in the Northeast Asian geopolitics,” said Kim Jong-dae, a former MP and visiting scholar at Yonsei Institute for North Korean Studies.

A stronger alliance between North Korea, Russia and China could become a “destablizing force in the region,” and ammunition from Pyongyang could significantly impact the war in Ukraine.

“I think Russia has already tested the North Korean shells in battlefields and is now ready to expand its use going forward. And neither the U.S. nor South Korea has come to grips with the implications of such an arms deal between Russia and the North,” he said.

Russia became a pariah in the West after invading Ukraine last year, and has looked to strengthen alliances with other leaders facing similar isolation.

Putin on Wednesday praised the “strengthening of cooperation and friendship between our countries,” while hosting Kim at a spaceport in Russia’s far east. He also said Moscow could help Pyongyang build satellites — after the North failed twice recently to put a military spy satellite into orbit.

In Washington, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said any cooperation would be “quite troubling and would potentially be in violation of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions.”

Kim, who traveled overland to Russia in his bulletproof train, was accompanied by a military-heavy entourage, with top Russian military officials including Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu also involved in the talks.

“With Kim Jong Un’s latest visit to Russia, North Korea-Russia relations can be said to have completely returned to the level of blood alliance during the Cold War,” said Cheong Seong-chang, researcher at the Sejong Institute.

“There have been many summit meetings between North Korea and Russia so far, but there has never been a time when North Korea brought in almost all of its key military officials like the one happening right now.”

Source : The Japan Times