Kim Jong Un Pledges Unwavering Backing for Russia’s ‘Righteous Struggle’ During Summit With Putin at Missile Launch Site

by Gabriel Martinez
Russia-North Korea Summit

In a summit that took place on Wednesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un proclaimed unswerving support for Russia’s ‘righteous struggle,’ a development that has raised concerns in the United States regarding a potential arrangement to furnish Moscow with munitions for its military operations in Ukraine.

The meeting occurred at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, a key Russian space launch facility located in the country’s Far East. Kim expressed “wholehearted and unqualified backing” for Russia, affirming that North Korea will persistently align itself with Moscow against what he termed as “anti-imperialist” forces.

The summit between the leaders served to highlight the convergence of their nations’ interests, especially given their respective escalating tensions with the United States. The discussions spanned between four and five hours, after which Kim departed, as stated by Russia’s official news agency RIA Novosti.

Analysts suggest that North Korea’s stockpile, consisting of millions of outdated artillery shells and rockets based on Soviet designs, could significantly augment Russia’s military capabilities in Ukraine.

Additional Context

The venue for the summit, Russia’s premier launch center, indicates that Kim is possibly seeking Russian expertise to advance his country’s development of military reconnaissance satellites. These satellites are critical to increasing the potency of North Korea’s nuclear-armed missiles.

Despite several unsuccessful endeavors to deploy its first military spy satellite, North Korea has not ceased its efforts. However, any move to either procure arms from or transfer rocket technology to North Korea would contravene international sanctions that Russia has previously endorsed.

Opening Ceremonies and Discussions

Upon his arrival, Kim was welcomed by Putin at the entry to the launch complex. Their handshake lasted approximately 40 seconds. Putin expressed pleasure at hosting Kim and noted that the summit’s agenda would include topics such as economic partnerships, humanitarian issues, and regional circumstances.

Kim reciprocated by voicing support for Russia’s endeavors to protect its sovereignty, particularly in relation to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. He stated, “We remain steadfast in our support for Russia’s just battle against hegemonic powers in defense of its sovereign rights and national interests.”

The initial part of their meeting involved a tour of a Soyuz-2 rocket launch facility, where Kim actively questioned a Russian space official about the technology.

Bilateral Relations and Emerging Military Ties

After the preliminary tour, both leaders held talks with their respective delegations and also had a one-on-one discussion, according to Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov. A formal luncheon in Kim’s honor was later hosted by Putin, as reported by Russian state media outlets.

During the luncheon, which featured Siberian and Russian Far Eastern culinary specialties, Kim emphasized that both nations agreed to deepen their “strategic and tactical cooperation.” He expressed confidence that Russia would triumph in what he characterized as a “righteous struggle” in Ukraine.

Unanticipated Missile Launches

The summit came just hours after North Korea launched two ballistic missiles into the sea, extending a string of provocative actions since the beginning of 2022. South Korea’s Unification Ministry stated that it was the first instance of a missile being launched while Kim was abroad, possibly signaling his firm control over North Korea’s military activities even while traveling internationally.

Moon Seong Mook, an analyst with the Seoul-based Korea Research Institute for National Strategy, posited that the missile launches could also signify North Korea’s disapproval towards the United States, particularly after State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller described Putin as meeting with “an international pariah.”

Both the U.S. and North Korean officials have denied allegations that North Korea has been supplying Russia with weaponry, including artillery shells to the Russian mercenary group Wagner.

Rumors about an emerging military alliance were fueled further when Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited North Korea in July. Following the visit, Kim undertook tours of his country’s weapons manufacturing facilities, seemingly with the dual objective of modernizing North Korea’s arsenal and evaluating equipment that could be exported to Russia.

Contributing Journalists

Reporting was contributed by Litvinova from Tallinn, Estonia. Additional inputs were provided by Big Big News journalists Jim Heintz in Tallinn, Estonia; Aamer Madhani and Matthew Lee in Washington; Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations; Dake Kang and Ng Han Guan in Fangchuan, China; Haruka Nuga and Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo; and Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about North Korea-Russia Summit

What was the primary focus of the summit between Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin?

The primary focus of the summit was to demonstrate alignment between North Korea and Russia, particularly in opposition to what they term as “anti-imperialist” forces. The meeting served to highlight both nations’ escalating tensions with the United States.

Where did the summit take place?

The summit occurred at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, a key Russian space launch facility located in the country’s Far East.

How long did the meeting last?

The discussions between Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin spanned between four and five hours.

What has the U.S. said about this summit?

The United States has expressed concerns that the summit could lead to a potential arms deal that would supply Russia with munitions for its military operations in Ukraine.

What kind of military support could North Korea provide to Russia?

Analysts suggest that North Korea’s stockpile of outdated artillery shells and rockets based on Soviet designs could significantly augment Russia’s military capabilities in Ukraine.

What significance does the Vostochny Cosmodrome hold?

The choice of the venue suggests that Kim Jong Un may be seeking Russian assistance to advance North Korea’s development of military reconnaissance satellites, crucial for the effectiveness of its nuclear-armed missiles.

Did North Korea conduct any military activities around the time of the summit?

Yes, North Korea launched two ballistic missiles into the sea just hours before the summit. This extended a series of provocative actions North Korea has been involved in since the beginning of 2022.

Were there any noteworthy gestures or moments during the summit?

Upon his arrival, Kim Jong Un was welcomed by Putin with a handshake that lasted approximately 40 seconds. Later, a formal luncheon in Kim’s honor was hosted by Putin.

What does the summit imply for future North Korea-Russia relations?

The summit suggests a deepening of strategic and tactical cooperation between the two nations, particularly against what they view as “anti-imperialist” forces, which include the United States.

How have other countries reacted to this summit?

The summit has intensified concerns internationally, particularly in the United States, about the possibility of an arms deal that would support Russia’s military operations in Ukraine. Other countries are closely monitoring the evolving situation.

More about North Korea-Russia Summit

  • North Korea-Russia Summit: Detailed Coverage
  • U.S. State Department’s Response to the Summit
  • Vostochny Cosmodrome: Russia’s Spaceport
  • Ukraine Conflict: Ongoing Developments
  • International Sanctions Against North Korea
  • Kim Jong Un’s Military Aspirations
  • Russia’s Involvement in Ukraine: A Timeline
  • Ballistic Missile Tests in North Korea: 2022 Recap
  • South Korea’s Unification Ministry: Statements and Reports
  • Russian and North Korean Relations: A Historical Overview

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Paul Harris September 13, 2023 - 8:16 pm

What concerns me is the timing. North Korea fires missiles just before this big meeting. Sounds like they’re making a point, and its not a good one.

John Smith September 13, 2023 - 9:01 pm

Whoa, didn’t see this coming. So North Korea and Russia are teaming up now? What’s next on the world stage?

Rachel Adams September 13, 2023 - 11:23 pm

Hold on, North Korea might be supplying old Soviet-designed artillery to Russia? This can really change the dynamics in Ukraine. This needs more media coverage ASAP.

Tom Baker September 14, 2023 - 4:59 am

kim and putin at a rocket facility? you can’t make this up. reckon it’s a signal they’re up to something real sinister.

Emily Williams September 14, 2023 - 5:55 am

I can’t believe this. It’s like watching a suspense thriller unfold in real life. If these two are collaborating, then the US has every right to be concerned.

Nancy Lee September 14, 2023 - 7:14 am

Is the world even paying attention? this is serious. those two countries have a lot at stake and now they’re meeting for hours?

Sara Thompson September 14, 2023 - 8:59 am

Does this mean we’re heading towards a new Cold War or what? Feels like history’s repeating itself…

Mike O'Donnell September 14, 2023 - 10:20 am

Man, this is some scary stuff. Why meet at a launch facility? Pretty obvious they’re talking more than just politics.


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