In a rare foreign trip, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is visiting multiple locations in Russia, including both military and civilian sites.
The journey commenced with Kim arriving in his personal train, a familial tradition that echoes the transport choices of his father and grandfather during their respective tenures as North Korea’s leaders. One of the major highlights of the visit was Kim’s tour of the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Amur Region, a space-launch facility in Russia. Here, he was met by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who personally guided him through the facility.
During the visit, both leaders engaged in two rounds of talks: one as part of larger delegations and a second more intimate face-to-face conversation. In his opening remarks, Kim pledged North Korea’s unwavering support for Russia against what he referred to as “hegemonic forces” and “imperialism.” This comes at a time when Moscow accuses the US and its allies of engaging in a ‘proxy war’ via sanctions and military involvement in Ukraine. North Korea, itself under decades-long Western sanctions, has historical ties with Russia, dating back to the 1950s Korean War.
This visit comes amid concerns from Washington over Moscow’s intent to source arms from North Korea, particularly for use in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The US has warned that such a move would have international repercussions for Pyongyang; however, Putin assured that Russia was observing current UN sanctions, which prohibit arms trade with North Korea, but also teased the possibility of “opportunities within the rules that are in place.”
Kim’s visit is expected to extend to other parts of Russia, such as Komsomolsk-on-Amur and Vladivostok. Putin labeled the interactions so far as “productive,” noting that it was too early to gauge the complete impact of the visit. On the agenda are various projects, including the showcasing of the Russian Pacific Fleet’s capabilities and a focus on environmental and educational issues. Interestingly, Putin mentioned plans to develop railroad connectivity through North Korea as one of the “many interesting projects” in the pipeline.
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