Russia and North Korea Deepen Ties as Putin Visits Pyongyang
Russia and North Korea Deepen Ties as Putin Visits Pyongyang

Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to visit North Korea for the first time in 24 years, praising the country for its strong support of Moscow's actions in Ukraine. He is scheduled to arrive in Pyongyang on Tuesday to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

This visit marks Putin’s first trip to Pyongyang since 2000, though he and Kim last met in September at Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome. In a letter published by North Korean state media, Putin expressed a desire to strengthen trade and security ties with North Korea that are independent of Western influence.

Putin also promised to support North Korea against what he described as "US pressure, blackmail, and military threats," and emphasized the mutual opposition to Western efforts to prevent the establishment of a multipolar world order.

The United States has expressed concern over the growing relationship between Russia and North Korea. Kremlin officials have described Putin's visit as a “friendly state visit,” with expectations that Putin and Kim will sign a partnership agreement, including security matters, and address the media together.

During his visit, Putin is expected to attend a parade in Kim Il Sung Square, watch a concert, and visit the Orthodox Church of the Life-Giving Trinity, the only orthodox church in North Korea. He will likely stay at the Kumsusan guesthouse, where Chinese leader Xi Jinping stayed during his 2019 visit to North Korea.

Putin will be accompanied by his new defense minister, Andrei Belousov, as well as Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak.

Kim Jong Un recently described the relationship between North Korea and Russia as an "unbreakable relationship of comrades-in-arms." Last year, Putin noted potential for military cooperation with North Korea, and Kim expressed his wishes for Russia's success in Ukraine.

The White House has voiced concern over the closer ties between the two nations, with National Security Council spokesman John Kirby highlighting worries about their deepening relationship rather than the trip itself.

John Nilsson-Wright from Cambridge University's Centre for Geopolitics commented that Putin is reinforcing ties with North Korea, an old Cold War ally, to counter US and its allies’ efforts to isolate Moscow. He noted that Putin is strengthening relationships with authoritarian regimes while democratic governments face global security challenges.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, ties between North Korea and Russia have grown stronger. North Korea is seeking assistance with space technology following a recent failed satellite launch, as well as food, fuel, and foreign currency. Conversely, Russia is dealing with a shortage of weapons for its war in Ukraine.

Washington and Seoul have accused North Korea of supplying Russia with artillery and other military equipment, likely in exchange for food and military aid. Both countries deny any arms deal.

After visiting North Korea, Putin is expected to visit Vietnam, another long-time ally, to discuss trade and other issues.

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