North Korean leader Kim Jong Un assured Vladimir Putin on Wednesday that Moscow will achieve a "great victory" over its enemies, during an exceptional visit to Russia organized to strengthen their ties, particularly military ones.
However, nothing has been officially communicated at this stage regarding a possible agreement for deliveries of military equipment to Russia in order to support its offensive in Ukraine, as mentioned by Washington.
After Kim arrived in Russia aboard his armored train, the two leaders shook hands and toured facilities at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Far East.
They held approximately two hours of formal discussions with their delegations and one-on-one, then attended a luncheon in honor of the North Korean leader.
“We are confident that the Russian army and people will definitely achieve a great victory in the sacred struggle to punish the gathering of evil that claims hegemony,” Kim told his counterpart, according to the official translation on Russian television .
He also praised the “heroic” Russian army, which has been engaged in an assault in Ukraine for more than a year and a half.
Facing Kim, Vladimir Putin toasted the "future strengthening of cooperation" with Pyongyang, in a solemn tone, a drink in hand, standing behind a long table, surrounded by senior Russian and North Korean officials.
According to Mr. Putin, the North Korean leader will attend a demonstration of the Russian navy in the Pacific in Vladivostok and will visit “civil and military” aeronautical equipment factories in the Far East.
Vladimir Putin said he saw "prospects" of military cooperation with North Korea, despite international sanctions already targeting Pyongyang, very isolated, because of its nuclear programs and its missiles in development.
"Russia respects all these restrictions. But there are things that we can certainly talk about, we discuss them (...) And there are prospects too," he said on Russian state television .
It is the first meeting of the two leaders since a previous trip by Kim Jong Un to Vladivostok in 2019. Washington fears that it will facilitate the delivery of North Korean weapons to Moscow for its military operations in Ukraine.
Kim described this summit with Vladimir Putin as a "springboard" in strengthening Russian-North Korean relations and affirmed that he will make ties with Russia the "absolute priority" of his diplomacy.
“I take this opportunity to affirm that we will always be with Russia,” he insisted.
The Russian Ministers of Defense, Sergei Shoigu, and of Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov, took part in the discussions, as well as that of Industry, Denis Manturov.
A spokesperson for Chinese diplomacy, for her part, affirmed on Wednesday that this summit only concerned “relations between these two countries”. Beijing remains Pyongyang's main political and economic backer.
Departing the North Korean capital on Sunday evening, Kim Jong Un arrived at the cosmodrome with senior military officials, suggesting the direction of his trip. He is making his first trip abroad since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
While Mr. Kim is in Russia, North Korea fired "an unidentified ballistic missile toward the East Sea" on Wednesday, Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said, using the Korean name. from the Sea of Japan. Tokyo has discussed the launch of two ballistic missiles.
The choice of the cosmodrome to hold this meeting is symbolic. On Wednesday, Vladimir Putin raised the possibility of Russia helping North Korea build satellites, after Pyongyang twice recently failed to put a military spy satellite into orbit.
"That's why we came here. The leader of North Korea shows great interest in rocket technology. They are trying to develop their space program," Putin said, according to Russian news agencies.
An Chan-il, a defector-turned-researcher who heads the Global Institute for North Korea Studies, told AFP that Moscow is interested in North Korea's stockpile of artillery shells, while that Pyongyang is seeking to modernize its Soviet-era equipment, particularly for its air force and navy.
"If North Korea's multiple rocket launchers and other artillery shells are supplied to Russia in large quantities, it could have a significant impact on the war in Ukraine," he added.
Last week, the White House warned that North Korea would "pay the price" if it supplied Russia with weapons for the conflict in Ukraine.
13/09/2023 15:55:19 - Moscow (AFP) - © 2023 AFP