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Putin accepts Kim Jong Un's invitation to visit North Korea

September 14, 2023

Kim Jong Un has invited the Russian president to North Korea after pledging his "full support" for Moscow's war in Ukraine. The US has warned this could mean missiles and ammunition.

Kim Jong Un shaking hands with Vladimir Putin
The two leaders reportedly vowed to strengthen ties between North Korea and RussiaImage: Mikhail Metzel/Russian President Press Office/dpa/picture alliance

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accepted an invitation to visit North Korea, Pyongyang's state-run KCNA news agency said on Thursday.

The invite came from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during talks with Putin at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok.

"Putin accepted the invitation with pleasure and reaffirmed his will to invariably carry forward the history and tradition of the Russia-DPRK friendship," KCNA said.

Earlier, on Wednesday, Kim vowed Pyongyang's "full and unconditional support" for Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

North Korean state media said the two leaders had committed themselves to a "common front to frustrate the imperialists' military threat and provocation."

Vladimir Putin toasts to 'strengthening of cooperation' with Korea

Putin, Kim talk military cooperation

Observers and US officials believe Putin is seeking ammunition and missiles from North Korea's abundant stockpiles.

James O'Brien, head of the Office of Sanctions Coordination at the US State Department, said Russia was "scraping the bottom of the barrel looking for help because it's having trouble sustaining its military."

Putin denied he was breaching sanctions that prohibit procuring weapons from North Korea.

"There are certain restrictions, Russia is following all of them," he said. "There are things we can talk about, we're discussing, thinking. Russia is a self-sufficient country, but there are things we can bring attention to, we're discussing them."

Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un visit the Vostochny Cosmodrome space launch center
Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un met at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia's Far East on WednesdayImage: Yonhap/picture alliance

North Korea's space race

Kim and Putin's four-hour meeting was held at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, the most important launchpad on Russian soil.

Kim is reportedly seeking Russia's help in developing military reconnaissance satellites. North Korea country has so far failed in its attempts to launch a satellite into orbit.

South Korea's Unification Ministry said Kim was accompanied by Pak Thae Song, the chairman of North Korea's space science and technology committee, and Admiral Kim Myong Sik, who has been linked to Pyongyang's efforts to acquire spy satellites and nuclear-capable ballistic missile submarines.

When asked by Russian media at the space center if Moscow would help Kim build satellites, Putin replied: "That's why we came here."

Japan warns against 'violations' of UN ban on arms deals with North Korea

Meanwhile, Japan on Thursday warned against violating UN resolutions on arms deals with North Korea, after Putin met with Kim.

"We are watching [the talks] with concerns including the possibility that it could lead to violations of the Security Council's ban on all arms-related material transactions with North Korea," Yoko Kamikawa, Japan's newly appointed foreign minister, told the media.

Kamikawa said the "Russian invasion of Ukraine cannot be accepted".

"Japan has urged third parties not to provide support to Russian forces. We are watching related activities with concerns," she added.

zc/rt (AFP, Reuters, AP)