Kim Pledges Unwavering Support to Putin and Russia, Highlighting Moscow’s ‘Sacred Struggle’

by Ethan Kim
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Russia-North Korea Summit

On Wednesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un conveyed to Russian President Vladimir Putin his nation’s “complete and unequivocal backing” for Russia’s “sacred struggle” to protect its national security. The comments appeared to allude to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Kim emphasized that North Korea would consistently side with Moscow in opposition to what he termed as “imperialist” forces.

Translating Kim’s words, the interpreter noted that the relationship between North Korea and Russia ranks as “the top priority.”

At the onset of their meeting, Putin extended a warm welcome to Kim and stated his pleasure in seeing him. Among the topics listed for their dialogue were economic partnerships, humanitarian concerns, and regional circumstances.

Additional Information

The meeting between Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un took place at Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome, as reported by Russian state media agency Tass.

Their discussion commenced shortly after both leaders toured multiple facilities at the space launch site, including two launch pads. The summit held at this remote Siberian rocket launch facility emphasizes the converging interests of the two leaders, especially in light of escalating tensions each country has with the United States.

In a photograph distributed by the North Korean government, Kim Jong Un and Russian Natural Resources Minister Alexander Kozlov were seen walking toward a station building at Khasan station in Russia on Tuesday, September 12, 2023.

Before formal talks, the leaders toured a Soyuz-2 space rocket launch facility. Kim inquired intensively about the rocket technologies from a Russian space official. This encounter took place just hours after North Korea launched two ballistic missiles into its eastern seas, continuing a provocative series of weapons tests that began in early 2022.

The venue for the meeting suggests that Kim seeks Russian expertise in his quest to develop military reconnaissance satellites. Recent attempts by North Korea to launch its first military spy satellite have been unsuccessful.

Accompanying Kim were Pak Thae Song, the chairman of North Korea’s space science and technology committee, and navy Admiral Kim Myong Sik. Both figures are associated with North Korea’s ambitions to acquire spy satellites and nuclear-capable ballistic missile submarines, according to South Korea’s Unification Ministry.

When questioned about Russia’s willingness to assist North Korea in satellite technology, Putin was quoted by state media saying, “That’s why we are here. The leader of the DPRK is highly interested in rocket technology. They are also working on developing their space capabilities.”

The meeting provides Putin with an opportunity to replenish munitions, depleted due to the ongoing 18-month war. Analysts speculate that North Korea could supply Russia with a significant stockpile of aged artillery shells and rockets based on Soviet designs, potentially aiding the Russian military efforts in Ukraine.

Kim Jong Un emphasized the “strategic importance” of relations with Moscow, stating that his decision to visit Russia for the first time in four years underlined this priority, according to North Korea’s official news agency.

Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko indicated that discussions on humanitarian aid to North Korea might be on the agenda.

An arms agreement between the two nations would contravene international sanctions, which Russia has supported in the past. South Korean officials, as well as representatives from the United States, warned against any moves that would violate United Nations sanctions.

Rumors regarding military collaboration between Russia and North Korea were further fueled after a visit to North Korea by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in July. Following the visit, Kim Jong Un toured factories producing artillery and missiles, actions experts believe serve a dual purpose: modernizing North Korea’s armaments and examining potential exports to Russia.

Various international journalists contributed to this report, including correspondents from Tallinn, Estonia; Washington, D.C.; the United Nations; Fangchuan, China; Tokyo, Japan; and Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

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

What is the main focus of the meeting between Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin?

The primary focus of the meeting appears to be on strengthening military and economic cooperation between Russia and North Korea. Both leaders also discussed regional security, with North Korea expressing full support for Russia’s “sacred struggle,” apparently referring to the conflict in Ukraine.

Where did the meeting take place?

The meeting occurred at Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome, a significant domestic satellite launch facility located in Siberia.

Who accompanied Kim Jong Un?

Kim Jong Un was accompanied by Pak Thae Song, chairman of North Korea’s space science and technology committee, and navy Admiral Kim Myong Sik. Both are connected with North Korea’s ambitions to acquire military reconnaissance satellites and nuclear-capable ballistic missile submarines.

What is the significance of the meeting venue?

The choice of venue, the Vostochny Cosmodrome, suggests that North Korea is interested in acquiring Russian technical expertise for its efforts to develop military reconnaissance satellites. Recent attempts by North Korea to launch its first military spy satellite have been unsuccessful.

What are the potential implications for international sanctions?

An arms deal between Russia and North Korea would violate international sanctions, which Russia has supported in the past. Such a move could lead to increased diplomatic tensions and might trigger additional sanctions.

Is this meeting connected to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine?

While not explicitly stated, North Korea’s declaration of support for Russia’s “sacred struggle” is seen as a likely reference to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The meeting may be part of broader geopolitical maneuvering related to that crisis.

What are the key topics that were discussed during the meeting?

The key topics include economic partnerships, humanitarian concerns, regional security, and potentially military cooperation, although details on the latter are not explicitly provided.

What might this mean for the United States?

The summit highlights the aligning interests of Russia and North Korea, particularly in light of their separate, intensifying confrontations with the United States. This could potentially impact U.S. foreign policy and national security considerations.

Were any other countries mentioned or involved?

South Korea and the United States were mentioned in the context of monitoring the situation closely. Japan’s Coast Guard also commented on North Korea’s missile tests, urging vessels to watch for falling objects.

What other developments preceded this meeting?

North Korea had recently launched two ballistic missiles into its eastern seas. Russia is engaged in an ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Both situations have contributed to escalating global tensions.

More about Russia-North Korea Summit

  • Overview of Russia-North Korea Relations
  • The Ukraine Conflict: Current Status
  • Vostochny Cosmodrome: Russia’s Premier Space Launch Site
  • North Korea’s Recent Missile Tests
  • International Sanctions Against North Korea
  • Russia’s Involvement in Ukraine and Global Implications
  • The United States’ Stance on North Korea and Russia
  • South Korea’s Perspective on North Korea-Russia Summit
  • Japan’s Coast Guard Reports on North Korean Missile Tests

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