13th September, 2023
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un offered Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday his country’s “full and unconditional support” for Russia’s “sacred fight” in Ukraine.
He said Pyongyang will always stand with Moscow on the “anti-imperialist” front.
Kim also called North Korea’s relations with Russia “the first priority.”
The leaders met at a remote Siberian rocket launch facility for a summit that underscores how their interests are aligning in the face of their countries’ separate, intensifying confrontations with the United States.
Putin in his opening remarks welcomed Kim to Russia and said he was glad to see him. Putin listed economic cooperation, humanitarian issues and the “situation in the region” among the agenda items for their talks.
The two men began their meeting at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia’s most important domestic satellite launch center, with a tour of a Soyuz-2 space rocket launch facility, at which Kim peppered a Russian space official with questions about the rockets.
Kim and Putin then met together with their delegations and later one-on-one, according to Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.
Following the tour, the two leaders headed a meeting of their delegations, and then spoke one-on-one.
The meeting came hours after North Korea fired two ballistic missiles toward the sea, extending a highly provocative run in North Korean weapons testing since the start of 2022, as Kim used the distraction caused by Putin’s war on Ukraine to accelerate his weapons development.
Asked whether Russia will help North Korea build satellites, Putin was quoted by Russian state media as saying “that’s why we have come here. The DPRK leader shows keen interest in rocket technology. They’re trying to develop space, too,” using the abbreviation for North Korea’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Asked about military cooperation, Putin said “we will talk about all issues without a rush. There is time.”
For Putin, the meeting with Kim is an opportunity to refill ammunition stores that the 18-month-old war has drained. North Korea may have tens of millions of aging artillery shells and rockets based on Soviet designs that could give a huge boost to the Russian army in Ukraine, analysts say.
Kim also brought Jo Chun Ryong, a ruling party official in charge of munitions policies who joined him on recent tours of factories producing artillery shells and missile, according to South Korea.
Kim said his decision to visit Russia four years after his previous visit showed how Pyongyang is “prioritizing the strategic importance” of its relations with Moscow, North Korea’s official news agency said Wednesday.