Kim Jong Un Holds Talks with Putin in Russia Amid North Korea Missile Launch
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin convened for a rare summit on Wednesday, delving into discussions concerning military affairs, the Ukraine conflict, and potential Russian assistance for North Korea's satellite program.
Kim's visit commenced with Putin showcasing Russia's state-of-the-art space rocket launch site at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia's Far East.
Upon arrival via train from North Korea, Kim inquisitively explored the site, posing numerous detailed questions about rocket technology while accompanied by Putin. Following the tour, the two leaders, aged 70 and 39 respectively, engaged in extensive talks with their ministers, followed by a one-on-one meeting, culminating in an opulent lunch featuring Russian "pelmeni" dumplings infused with Kamchatka crab, followed by sturgeon accompanied by mushrooms and potatoes.
During the luncheon, Kim raised his glass in a toast to Putin's health and the triumph of "great Russia." He also expressed optimism regarding Korean-Russian friendship and predicted a Russian victory in its "sacred fight" against the West in the Ukraine conflict. Kim conveyed his firm belief that the Russian army and people would honorably uphold their victories and traditions on the fronts of military operations and nation-building.
Putin, acknowledging Kim's toast, suggested that military cooperation was discussed during their talks, though he divulged minimal specifics. Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu was present at the meeting, and the Kremlin emphasized that sensitive matters were not meant for public discussion.
When questioned by Russian media, which enjoyed significant access at the summit, about Russia assisting Kim in satellite development, Putin cryptically remarked, "That's why we came here."
For Russia, the summit presented an opportunity to subtly challenge the United States, a staunch supporter of Ukraine. However, the extent to which Putin is willing to fulfill any North Korean requests for technology remains uncertain.
Following the summit, it was revealed that Kim intends to visit both military and civilian aviation facilities in the Russian city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur and inspect Russia's Pacific fleet in Vladivostok.
The leaders addressed each other as "comrades" during their luncheon, with Putin frequently reminding Kim that it was the Soviet Union that initially supported North Korea and was the first to recognize its establishment over 75 years ago.
Amid the ongoing Ukraine conflict, the U.S. and its allies are closely monitoring Kim's visit to determine if it could lead to artillery supplies to Russia.
Russia, in alliance with China, has opposed new sanctions on North Korea, thwarting a U.S.-led initiative and causing a public division in the UN Security Council for the first time since punitive measures against Pyongyang commenced in 2006.
Regarding potential military cooperation, Putin asserted that Russia adheres to international regulations but acknowledged the existence of opportunities for exploration.
Notably, the choice of the Vostochny Cosmodrome as the summit location is significant, as North Korea has previously encountered difficulties in launching reconnaissance satellites, failing twice in the past four months.
Prior to his meeting with Putin, Kim signed the visitor book in Korean, expressing, "The glory to Russia, which gave birth to the first space conquerors, will be immortal."