Russia's Vladimir Putin to visit North Korea

Staff WritersReuters
Kim Jong-un extended an invite to Vladimir Putin during a visit to Russia's Far East last September. (AP PHOTO)
Camera IconKim Jong-un extended an invite to Vladimir Putin during a visit to Russia's Far East last September. (AP PHOTO) Credit: AAP

Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit North Korea on Tuesday and Wednesday in an extremely rare trip that underscores Moscow's burgeoning partnership with the reclusive nuclear-armed state.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un extended an invite to Putin during a visit to Russia's Far East last September. Putin has not visited Pyongyang since July 2000.

"At the invitation of the Chairman of State Affairs of the DPRK, Kim Jong Un, Vladimir Putin will pay a friendly state visit to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on June 18-19," the Kremlin said.

After North Korea, Putin will visit Vietnam on June 19-20, the Kremlin said.

Russia has gone out of its way to publicise the renaissance of its relationship with North Korea since the start of the war in Ukraine, which has triggered the biggest crisis for more than 60 years in Moscow's relationship with the West.

For Putin, who says Russia is locked in an existential battle with the West over Ukraine, courting Kim allows him to needle Washington and its Asian allies while securing a deep supply of artillery for the Ukraine war.

The United States and its allies say North Korea has supplied weapons to Russia to help it fight in Ukraine, though North Korea has repeatedly denied the claims as a fiction invented by Western propagandists.

United Nations monitors concluded that at least one ballistic missile fired from Russia at a city in Ukraine in January was made in North Korea. Ukrainian officials say they have counted about 50 such missiles delivered to Russia by North Korea.

"The list of countries willing to welcome Putin is shorter than ever, but for Kim Jong-un, this visit is a victory," said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.

"Not only does the summit upgrade North Korea's status among countries standing against the US-led international order, it also helps bolster Kim's domestic legitimacy."

Putin first visited Pyongyang in July 2000, months after his first election when he met with Kim's father, Kim Jong Il, who ruled the country then.

South Korea's vice foreign minister, Kim Hong-kyun, discussed Putin's planned visit to the north in an emergency phone call with US Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell on Friday, Seoul's foreign ministry said.

The visit should not result in more military co-operation between Pyongyang and Moscow in violation of UN resolutions, the South Korean ministry said.

Russia says it will co-operate with North Korea and develop relations in the manner it chooses and that it will not be told what to do by any country, least of all the United States.

with AP

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