Vladimir Putin met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for a rare summit on Wednesday after the Russian President showed his guest around his country’s most advanced space rocket launch site.
Kim travelled to Russia’s Far East via a special armour-plated train. He was said to have asked numerous detailed questions about rockets as Putin showed him around the Vostochny Cosmodrome.
After the tour, Putin, 70, and Kim, 39, held talks for several hours with their ministers and then one-on-one, followed by an opulent lunch.
The pair are believed to have discussed military matters, the war in Ukraine and possible Russian help for the secretive Communist state’s satellite programme.
Kim raised a toast with a glass of Russian wine to Putin’s health, to the victory of “great Russia” and to Korean-Russian friendship, predicting victory for Russia in its “sacred fight” with the West in the Ukraine war.
For Russia, the summit was an opportunity to needle the United States, the big power supporter of Ukraine, though it was unclear just how far Putin was prepared to go in fulfilling any North Korean wish lists of technology.
Putin said Kim now planned to visit military and civilian aviation factories in the Russian city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur and inspect the Russia’s Pacific fleet in Vladivostok.
Putin and Kim called each other “comrades” at lunch and Putin repeatedly reminded Kim that it was the Soviet Union which backed North Korea – and was first to recognise it just over 75 years to the day since it was established.
Amid the Ukraine war, which has become a grinding artillery war of attrition, the United States and Kyiv’s other allies are watching to see if Kim’s visit paves the way for a supply of artillery to Russia.
Russia has joined China in opposing new sanctions on North Korea, blocking a US-led push and publicly splitting the UN Security Council for the first time since it started punishing Pyongyang in 2006.
Asked about military cooperation, Putin said Russia complied with international rules but that there were opportunities to explore.
The choice to meet at Vostochny Cosmodrome – a symbol of Russia’s ambitions as a space power – was notable, as North Korea twice failed to launch reconnaissance satellites in the past four months.
After showing Kim around a building where the Angara, Russia’s new 42.7-metre space launch rocket, is assembled, Putin said Kim had shown a “great interest in rocket engineering” during the visit.
Ahead of his meeting with Putin, Kim signed the visitor book in Korean: “The glory to Russia, which gave birth to the first space conquerors, will be immortal.”
As Kim was making his way through the forests of Russia by train, North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles from an area near the capital, Pyongyang, into the sea off its east coast.
It was the first such launch by the North while Kim was abroad, analysts said, demonstrating an increased level of delegation and more refined control systems for the country’s nuclear and missile programmes.
Kim had made just seven trips abroad in his 12 years in power, all in 2018 and 2019. He also briefly stepped across the inter-Korean border twice.
The make-up of Kim’s delegation to Russia, with the notable presence of Munitions Industry Department director Jo Chun Ryong, suggested an agenda heavy on defence industry cooperation, analysts said.
“In Korea, there is a proverb: good clothes are those that are new, but old friends are best friends. And our people say: an old friend is better than two new ones,” Putin told Kim.
“This folk wisdom is fully applicable to modern relations between our countries.”
The Southeast Asian nation is looking to move beyond manufacturing and assembly amid trade tensions…
The allies say Pyongyang uses cybercrime profits to gather funds for its nuclear and missile…
Persistently sluggish demand has raised the spectre of wide-scale deflation amid mounting local government debt…
The property firm is hoping to decrease its debt by about $6 billion to $7…
The manufacturing hub by the South China Sea is increasingly a key assembling link in…
Geopolitical tensions are thought to be behind the move which will see Vietnamese contractors involved…