Putin says Russia and North Korea will help each other if attacked, taking ties to ‘new level’



CNN

Russia and North Korea have expanded ties to a “new level,” Vladimir Putin said, pledging to help each other if either country was attacked in a “breakthrough” new partnership announced during a rare visit by the Russian president.

Thousands of North Koreans chanted “Welcome Putin” as Putin embarked on his first visit to North Korea in 24 years in a showdown with the dictatorial regime.

According to Russian state news agency TASS, the pair signed a new strategic partnership to replace previous agreements signed in 1961, 2000 and 2001. “The comprehensive partnership agreement signed today includes, among other things, the provision of mutual assistance in the event of aggression against one of the parties to this agreement,” Putin said after the meeting.

He said the agreement “covers the political, trade, investment, cultural and defense sectors”, calling the agreement “truly a landmark document”.

Putin said joint exercises involving the US, South Korea and Japan were “hostile” towards North Korea, characterizing US policy as “confrontational”. Kim, meanwhile, called the new “alliance” “a watershed moment in the development of bilateral relations.”

But the deal between the two autocrats raised a number of questions — including whether Russia’s nuclear deterrent will now be extended to North Korea and vice versa, or whether the two countries will now hold joint military exercises.

Putin was met with enthusiastic celebrations at a reception with his entourage at Kim Il Sung Square in the heart of the North Korean capital, where mounted soldiers, military personnel and children held balloons and cheered against the backdrop of large portraits of each leader.

The two leaders presented their respective officials, stood together as the Russian national anthem was played, and smiled and waved to the crowd as they rode shoulder-to-shoulder in an open-top motorcade.

The staging reflected North Korea’s reliance on Moscow and may serve as a reminder to the West that Putin has considerable influence in at least some corners of the world after his full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

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Relations with Russia are also important. Several governments have accused Pyongyang of supplying weapons to Moscow for its grinding war in Ukraine, despite significant evidence of such transfers that both countries deny.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un attend a reception in Pyongyang, North Korea, June 19, 2024.

On Wednesday, Putin gave Kim an Auras car and the two leaders exchanged gifts, according to Russian state media — the second time Putin has given this car model. Putin’s aide Yuri Ushakov said the Russian leader also presented Kim with a tea set. Ushakov did not specify what Putin received, but said they were “good gifts”.

Putin landed in North Korea early Wednesday morning, exactly 24 years to the day since his last visit to Pyongyang, for a visit that marked the countries’ deepening alignment in the face of shared hostility to the West and international concerns. Military cooperation.

Ahead of the talks between the two, Kim voiced his “full support and solidarity with the struggles of the Russian government, military and people,” specifically pointing to Moscow’s war in Ukraine “to protect its own sovereignty, security and regional stability.”

“The situations continue to be complex and ever-changing, but I want to take this opportunity to reiterate that we will strengthen strategic communication and engage closely with the (Russian) leadership,” Kim added.

According to Russian state agency TASS, Putin praised the countries’ relations based on “equality and mutual respect” and said the expected new bilateral agreement “will form the basis of relations between the two countries for years to come.” He also said he hoped Kim would travel to Moscow for the next meeting.

The burgeoning relationship has fueled concern in both Seoul and Washington over the possibility not only of North Korea transferring weapons to Russia, but also of Moscow transferring its superior military technology to aid Pyongyang’s largely sanctioned weapons program.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attend an official welcoming ceremony at Kim Il Sung Square on June 19, 2024 in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Video footage of the Russian leader’s visit showed Kim, the third-generation leader of North Korea’s iron-fisted dynasty, welcoming Putin at the airport early Wednesday.

The landmark visit marks a significant boost for Kim, who has been isolated on the world stage and has not hosted another world leader in his capital since the pandemic.

Amid rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula and warnings in Pyongyang about tightening coordination between the US, South Korea and Japan, Kim has stepped up bellicose language in recent months and scrapped a longstanding policy of peaceful reunification with South Korea.

North Korea’s state media appeared to play heavily on the close relationship between Kim and Putin, describing them as “exchanging their hidden inner thoughts and opening their minds to further develop (North Korea-Russia) relations”. Airport to Kumshusan State Guest House, where Putin is staying.

Putin’s visit follows Kim’s landmark trip to Russia last year, widely seen as the two leaders opening this new chapter in their relationship, which foreshadowed Putin’s need for North Korean weapons for its current offensive.

Russia has received more than 10,000 shipping containers – the equivalent of 260,000 metric tons Ammunition or munitions-related materials — from North Korea since September, a U.S. Report In February. A US official also said Russian forces have fired at least 10 North Korean-made missiles at Ukraine since September. said In the month of March.

The Russian leader is widely seen as guaranteeing this continued support, which may be especially urgent as US military aid to Ukraine comes online late.

Putin tried to connect today’s meeting with Moscow and Pyongyang’s historical ties. He told Kim that the “exploits of previous generations” were a “good basis for improving relations” between the two countries, according to Russian state media TASS.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il as he arrives in Pyongyang, Wednesday, July 19, 2000.

Putin made his last visit to Pyongyang in 2000 for a meeting with Kim’s late father and predecessor, Kim Jong Il. The trip made Putin the first Russian head of state to visit North Korea, just weeks after his first presidential inauguration.

The elder Kim later visited Moscow in 2001, taking a nine-day train trip across Russia for the meeting, his second trip abroad after an earlier trip to China.

In 2000, the two countries signed a new cooperation agreement. Unlike the 1961 document between the Soviet Union and North Korea, that new iteration did not mention mutual military security assistance, but was seen as an important step in renewing a rich and closely-knit relationship.

The two neighbors have deep ties on the Korean Peninsula. Following the defeat of the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II, Kim’s grandfather Kim Il Sung came to power in the late 1940s as part of Soviet efforts to establish a communist-controlled government in the north to rival the American-backed government in the south.

But as the Soviet Union collapsed and Russia’s fledgling state established diplomatic ties with Seoul and supported several United Nations sanctions on North Korea’s weapons program, the tightly knit relationship crumbled and changed in the intervening decades.

The latest diplomacy comes as shared frustrations with the West have drawn the two countries closer — a trend observers now see as accelerated by the war in Ukraine and the UN.

In March, Moscow vetoed a UN resolution to renew independent monitoring of North Korea’s violations of Security Council sanctions — raising concerns about ties to weakened controls over Kim’s illegal weapons program.

This story has been updated.

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