Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Pyongyang, marking his first visit to North Korea in nearly 24 years. This trip, described by North Korean state media as part of the effort to “build an independent multipolar world,” comes as both countries continue to strengthen their economic and security ties despite severe international sanctions.

The Kremlin announced Putin’s arrival, underscoring the importance of the visit in the context of continued diplomatic and economic exchanges between the two nations. North Korea’s official media portrayed Russia and North Korea as united partners against a US-led global order. Analysts believe Putin’s visit is aimed at negotiating the purchase of ammunition from North Korea, highlighting the strategic importance of the bilateral relationship.

North Korea’s Central News Agency framed Russia’s war in Ukraine as a “struggle to defend national sovereignty and security interests” and an effort to counter “imperialist hegemony.” Putin expressed this sentiment in an article for the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North Korean Workers’ Party, thanking North Korea for its support of Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine and emphasizing its “solidarity.” on key international issues at the United Nations.

Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February 2022, faces severe international sanctions. Intelligence reports from South Korea and Washington suggest that North Korea has supplied Russia with munitions and ballistic missile technology, which could be a key topic in Putin’s discussions in Pyongyang.

Despite hopes for meaningful dialogue, experts like Jenny Town, director of 38 North, doubt there will be public announcements of formal agreements. Town noted a reluctance to document activities that could contravene international sanctions. However, she highlighted that the relationship produces “immediate and tangible results” in economic, agricultural, commercial and military cooperation.

Japan and North Korea reportedly held a secret meeting in mid-May

Historical ties between Moscow and Pyongyang date back to the Korean War and have been characterized by ideological alignment during the Cold War. In recent years, interactions have increased as both nations face increasing isolation on the global stage. Putin’s previous visit to North Korea was in July 2000, with subsequent meetings with Kim Jong Un in 2019 and 2023.

Ahead of Putin’s visit, senior officials from South Korea and the United States held an emergency call, expressing concerns about possible escalations in military cooperation. Both Russia and North Korea are under strict sanctions: Russia for its actions in Ukraine and North Korea for its nuclear program.

Putin’s visit follows Kim Jong Un’s trip to Russia last September, which North Korean media heralded as a renewal of “friendship and solidarity.” Later, South Korean intelligence reported possible Russian assistance in developing North Korean satellite technology.

As Putin continues his trip, with Vietnam as his next destination, the global community is watching closely, recognizing that his return to North Korea underscores the changing dynamics in international relations and the growing ties between these two isolated states.


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