Kim Jong Un Pledges Unwavering Support to Russia in Meeting with Putin

by Michael Nguyen
Russia-North Korea Summit

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pledged “complete and unequivocal backing” for Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Wednesday during a summit that drew concern from the United States, as it could potentially facilitate arms deals that would bolster Moscow’s military efforts in Ukraine.

The conference, extending over four hours at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia’s primary space launch site, highlights the converging interests between the two nations. Putin is thought to be interested in acquiring North Korea’s ample supplies of obsolete munitions and rockets designed for Soviet-era weaponry.

This potential transaction represents a significant shift from the Korean War of 1950-1953, during which Russia supplied arms to aid North Korea’s incursion into South Korea. The Soviet Union continued to back North Korea in the ensuing decades.

Opting for the Vostochny Cosmodrome as the meeting location implies Kim’s interest in Russian assistance for developing military reconnaissance satellites. Kim has previously identified this as vital for augmenting the capabilities of his nuclear-armed missiles. North Korea has consistently been unsuccessful in launching its inaugural military spy satellite.

Putin received Kim at the launch site with a handshake lasting approximately 40 seconds and made reference to the Soviet Union’s historical support for North Korea. The discussions were expected to address economic partnerships, humanitarian matters, and regional issues.

In reciprocation, Kim reiterated his commitment to support Russia, subtly referencing the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. “We are in full and unwavering support of Russia’s just struggle against hegemonic actions to protect its sovereignty, safety, and interests,” he stated.

North Korea potentially possesses tens of millions of outdated artillery shells and rockets, modeled after Soviet designs, which could be of use to Russian forces in Ukraine, say analysts.

The U.S. has accused North Korea of arming Russia, including the sale of artillery to the Russian private military company Wagner, although officials from both countries have denied these allegations. Engaging in such an exchange would breach international sanctions that Russia has previously endorsed.

The meeting adds to Russia’s diplomatic isolation, which has grown since its invasion of Ukraine resulted in an array of economic sanctions, severing its access to international markets and limiting its diplomatic engagements.

Russia’s primary aim is success in Ukraine, according to James Nixey, director of Russia and Eurasia program at London-based think-tank Chatham House. The transaction would likely see Pyongyang receiving food and missile technology in return, Nixey suggested.

Following the discussions, Kim and Putin explored a Soyuz-2 rocket launch facility, during which Kim inquired extensively about various technical aspects.

U.S. State Department’s Head of Office of Sanctions Coordination, James O’Brien, warned that a deal between the countries would violate existing sanctions and spur efforts from the U.S. to identify those involved.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres emphasized at a press conference that any collaboration with North Korea must adhere to the sanctions imposed by the Security Council.

The summit occurred mere hours after North Korea launched two ballistic missiles toward the sea, signaling a continuation in its provocative series of tests since 2022.

Experts from South Korea’s Unification Ministry identified several high-ranking North Korean officials accompanying Kim, all of whom are associated with North Korea’s efforts to acquire military technologies.

During a post-summit luncheon featuring regional dishes like Kamchatka crab dumplings, Kim and Putin agreed to strengthen their “strategic and tactical cooperation,” although the specifics were not disclosed to the public.

The reporting is contributed by journalists Haruka Nuga and Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo; Emma Burrows in London, Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations, and Jim Heintz and Litvinova in Tallinn, Estonia.

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

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

The primary focus of the summit was to strengthen diplomatic and potentially military ties between North Korea and Russia. The meeting also touched upon economic partnerships, humanitarian issues, and regional stability.

Where did the summit take place?

The summit occurred at Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome, a primary space launch site, suggesting discussions also likely covered areas related to aerospace and military reconnaissance technology.

How long did the meeting last?

The meeting extended for more than four hours, indicating the depth and scope of the discussions between the two leaders.

What are the implications of this summit for the Ukraine conflict?

The summit raises concerns that North Korea could provide Russia with outdated but still effective munitions and rockets, bolstering Russia’s military efforts in Ukraine.

Have North Korea and Russia violated any international sanctions?

Engaging in arms deals would breach international sanctions that both countries are currently under. However, both governments have denied any such involvement.

What is the United States’ stance on this meeting?

The United States has expressed concern over the summit, warning that it could lead to arms transactions that would aid Russia’s military operations in Ukraine.

What does the summit imply about North Korea’s technological aspirations?

The summit suggests that North Korea is keen on acquiring Russian assistance for developing military reconnaissance satellites, a capability Kim Jong Un has previously indicated is crucial for his country.

How did the international community respond to this meeting?

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres emphasized that any form of cooperation with North Korea must respect the sanctions regime imposed by the UN Security Council.

What has been Russia’s historical involvement with North Korea?

Russia, formerly the Soviet Union, has historically been an ally to North Korea, including supplying arms during the Korean War of 1950-1953.

Did anything significant happen immediately before or after the summit?

Immediately before the summit, North Korea launched two ballistic missiles toward the sea, marking a continuation in its provocative series of tests since 2022.

More about Russia-North Korea Summit

  • Overview of North Korea-Russia Relations
  • United Nations Sanctions on North Korea
  • Russia’s Military Actions in Ukraine
  • Historical Context: Soviet Support During the Korean War
  • U.S. State Department Remarks on Russia-North Korea Summit
  • Recent North Korean Ballistic Missile Tests
  • The Strategic Importance of Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome
  • Chatham House Analysis on Russia-Ukraine Conflict

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SallyM September 13, 2023 - 11:00 pm

kinda scary to think North Korea might supply Russia with arms for Ukraine. Seriously, where is this heading?

PoliticalSavvy September 14, 2023 - 1:27 am

That 40-sec handshake between Putin and Kim. Quite telling about how much both sides are invested in this relationship.

TechGuru September 14, 2023 - 6:04 am

The meeting at the cosmodrome suggests that there’s more than just ammo on the table. Satellites and space tech too, perhaps?

CryptoFan101 September 14, 2023 - 6:45 am

Russia’s economy is already in hot water because of sanctions. teaming up with North Korea could make it worse. Bad move?

JohnDoe42 September 14, 2023 - 6:50 am

Wow, this is a game changer, ain’t it? North Korea and Russia joining forces… makes you wonder what’s next on the world stage.

EconWiz September 14, 2023 - 4:17 pm

Russia’s been cut off from global markets, so not surprising they’re seeking alliances elsewhere. But North Korea? Really?

GlobalWatcher September 14, 2023 - 6:42 pm

US and UN are definitely not gonna be happy bout this. Another layer of complexity in an already complicated situation.

HistoryBuff September 14, 2023 - 9:03 pm

Interesting to see the tables have turned since the Korean War. Russia used to arm N. Korea, now it might be the other way round.


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