Putin to meet Kim Jong Un in first visit to North Korea in 24 years

18 June 2024, 08:32

This is Mr Putin's first visit to North Korea since 2000
This is Mr Putin's first visit to North Korea since 2000. Picture: Alamy

By Will Conroy

Vladimir Putin is set to visit North Korea for the first time in 24 years after praising the country for its support in Russia’s war with Ukraine.

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Mr Putin is due to arrive in Pyongyang late on Tuesday to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as he seeks continued military support.

North Korea has been supplying Moscow with weapons and ammunition, according to the United States, while South Korea’s defence minister said the North had supplied nearly five million artillery shells since September.

The Kremlin and Pyongyang have denied the existence of an arms deal despite UN monitors claiming to have seen evidence.

Mr Kim met Mr Putin at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East in September last year but this is only the Russian leader’s second visit to North Korea after he first visited in 2000.

Mr Putin with former US president Donald Trump in 2018
Mr Putin with former US president Donald Trump in 2018. Picture: Alamy

Mr Putin is set to arrive with a large entourage of government ministers and advisers, including those responsible for the Russian military and weapons procurement, according to reports.

He has pledged to build security and trade systems “that are not controlled by the West” in a letter that was written for North Korean state media.

The article, which was published in North Korea’s Central News Agency, also included a commitment to support Pyongyang in its defence of “US pressure, blackmail and military threats”.

He said the two nations will continue to “resolutely oppose” what he said were Western ambitions to “hinder the establishment of a multipolarised world order based on mutual respect for justice”.

Read more: Vladimir Putin promises Ukraine ceasefire on two conditions as he issues fresh warning to the West

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The US has expressed concern over the “deepening relationship” between the nations with Russian media reporting that Mr Putin and Mr Kim may sign a partnership agreement.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said: “We’re not concerned about the trip. What we are concerned about is the deepening relationship between these two countries.”

The two leaders meeting in Russia in 2019
The two leaders meeting in Russia in 2019. Picture: Alamy

Last week, the North Korean leader said the country’s ties with Russia had “developed into an unbreakable relationship of comrades-in-arms.”

When the two leaders met last year, Mr Putin said he saw “possibilities” for military cooperation with North Korea as Mr Kim wished Russia’s president “victory” in its war with Ukraine.

John Nilsson-Wright, head of the Japan and Koreas programme at Cambridge Universtiy’s Centre for Geopolitics, said Mr Putin is “strengthening ties with its old Cold War partner” as he looks to “counter any suggestion that the US and its allies have been able to isolate Moscow.”

He added: “He is bolstering relations between authoritarian regimes at a time when democratic governments are in a defensive position, confronting global security challenges.”

Moscow is thought to have offered support to Pyongyang to help with its space technology as well as supplying food and fuel while Russia continues to face a shortage of weapons in its conflict with Ukraine.

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