Putin visits North Korea on rare trip as anti-Western alliance deepens


Vladimir Putin is scheduled to travel to north korea The Kremlin said on a two-day visit starting Tuesday Russian The president’s first trip to the country in more than two decades — and the latest sign of that happening Deepen the alignment This has sparked widespread international concern.

This is a rare foreign trip for Putin since Russia has undertaken such a large-scale trip Invasion of Ukraine The events began in 2022 and were an important moment for North Korean President Kim Jong Un, who has not hosted another world leader in Pyongyang – among the most politically isolated capitals in the world – since the Covid-19 pandemic.

The closely watched visit is expected to strengthen the burgeoning partnership between the two powers, which is based on their shared hostility toward the West and driven by Putin’s need for support in his ongoing war on Ukraine.

After his visit to North Korea, Putin will travel to Hanoi on Wednesday for another two-day trip, in a review of communist-ruled Vietnam’s relations with Russia, which is likely to anger the United States.

His aide Yuri Ushakov said during a press conference on Monday that Putin’s trip to North Korea will be eventful. Ushakov said the two leaders intend to sign a new strategic partnership, and the main events of the visit are scheduled to be held on Wednesday.

Ushakov insisted that the agreement is not provocative or directed against other countries, but aims to ensure greater stability in Northeast Asia. He said that the new agreement would replace the documents signed between Moscow and Pyongyang in 1961, 2000 and 2001.

The Russian Information Agency quoted Ushakov as saying: “The parties are still working on it, and a final decision on signing it will be made in the coming hours.”

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Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un during a visit to Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome, September 2023.

The United States, South Korea and other countries accused North Korea of ​​this Providing significant military aid Russia has blamed the Russian war effort in recent months, while observers have raised concerns that Moscow may be violating international sanctions to help Pyongyang develop its war capabilities. Emerging military satellite program. Both countries denied North Korean arms exports.

Putin’s trip is a reciprocation of a trip by Kim Last Septemberwhen the North Korean leader traveled in his armored train to the far east of Russia, on a visit that included a stop at a factory that produces fighter aircraft and a missile launching facility.

Kim last week praised the future of “meaningful relations and close friendship” between the two countries in a message to Putin on Russia’s National Day on June 12.

“Our people provide full support and solidarity for the successful work being carried out by the Russian army and people,” Kim said, according to the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper.

The Kremlin said Russia hopes to build a partnership with North Korea “in all possible areas,” according to Russian state media.

The meeting comes just days after the G7 summit of advanced economies in Italy, attended by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, where Western leaders affirmed their permanent support for Ukraine and agreed to use profits from frozen Russian assets to support the debt restructuring process. A loan worth $50 billion To the war-torn country.

It also comes on the heels of support for Kyiv International peace summit Over the weekend, it was attended by more than 100 countries and organizations, and was intended to garner support for Zelensky’s peace vision, which calls for the complete withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukrainian territory.

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Putin rebuffed those efforts a day before the meeting by offering his own peace terms, including the withdrawal of Ukrainian forces from four partially occupied regions and for Kiev to withdraw its bid to join NATO — a position that Ukraine and its allies consider unsuccessful.

Putin’s visit to North Korea is widely seen as an opportunity for him to seek to shore up Kim’s support for his war – a goal that may become increasingly urgent with the arrival of long-delayed US military aid to Ukraine.

Last month, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told US lawmakers that the provision of North Korean munitions and missiles, as well as Iranian drones, allowed Russian forces to “get back on their feet.”

Between August and February, Pyongyang shipped about 6,700 containers to Russia, which can hold more than 3 million rounds of 152 mm artillery shells or more than 500,000 rounds of 122 mm multiple rocket launchers, the South Korean Defense Ministry said. Earlier this year.

Both Moscow and Pyongyang have denied such arms transfers, with a senior North Korean official last month calling such claims an “absurd paradox.”

Asked about concerns that Russia was considering transferring sensitive technologies to Pyongyang in exchange for those goods, a Kremlin spokesman said last week that the two countries’ “potential for developing bilateral relations” was “deep” and “should not cause concern to anyone.” No one should and cannot challenge it.”

Putin’s last visit to North Korea was in 2000, when he met with Kim’s predecessor and late father, Kim Jong Il.

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His travel now comes as the Russian leader appears keen to re-establish himself on the world stage, shedding an image of isolation in the wake of his widely condemned invasion of Ukraine by attracting like-minded partners.

Last month, Putin presented a State visit to BeijingHe and Chinese leader Xi Jinping categorically emphasized their shared opposition to what they see as a US-led global order.

Last week, Moscow hosted the foreign ministers of countries including China, Iran, South Africa and Brazil at a meeting of the BRICS group, which includes major developing economies.

Putin’s move to strengthen ties with North Korea was a boon for Kim, who remains free from years of international sanctions over his illegal nuclear weapons program.

This coincides with a period of growing international concern about the North Korean leader’s intentions, as he intensified his belligerent tone and scrapped a long-standing policy seeking peaceful reunification with South Korea.

A visit by the leader of a permanent member of the UN Security Council will provide a signal to Kim’s domestic audience about his global influence – and an opportunity to press for much-needed economic and technological support from Moscow.

Russia has previously supported international sanctions and UN-backed investigations into North Korea’s illegal weapons programme, which includes tests of long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles that could theoretically reach the US mainland.

But Russia’s apparent increasing dependence on North Korea and growing frictions with the West appear to have shifted this dynamic. In March, Moscow It vetoed a UN resolution To renew independent monitoring of North Korea’s violations of Security Council sanctions.

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