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Kim and Putin Reignite Ties in Historic Pyongyang Visit

Ahead of his arrival, Putin suggested that North Korea could benefit economically within an anti-West bloc led by Russia, a notion supported by analysts like Rachel Minyoung Lee from the 38 North program.

Kim and Putin Reignite Ties in Historic Pyongyang Visit
Photo by Rock Staar / Unsplash

In a historic visit, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warmly welcomed Russian President Vladimir Putin to Pyongyang on June 19, marking Putin’s first trip to the North Korean capital in 24 years.

The leaders, embracing upon Putin's early morning arrival, shared their “pent-up inmost thoughts” and vowed to strengthen their nations’ relations, according to North Korean state media.

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This meeting is pivotal, with both countries facing international isolation. The visit underscores the deepening ties between Moscow and Pyongyang, which North Korea’s state news agency KCNA heralded as vital for accelerating the creation of a “new multi-polar world.”

The U.S. is concerned about the ‘bromance’?

Historically allied since North Korea's post-WWII inception, the two nations have grown closer following Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine, which resulted in Western sanctions against Moscow. Both nations seek to counter U.S. influence, so their collaboration serves mutual strategic and economic interests.

The U.S. and its allies have raised concerns about potential Russian aid to North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs, alleging Pyongyang has supplied Russia with weapons for use in Ukraine. Both Moscow and Pyongyang deny these claims.

During Putin’s visit, he and Kim rode together through Pyongyang’s illuminated streets to the Kumsusan State Guest House, discussing their plans for cooperation. Putin’s itinerary includes one-on-one talks with Kim, a gala concert, a state reception, and a joint media statement.

Putin’s praise for North Korea's resistance to U.S. pressures signals a potential shift in Russia's policy, with an emphasis on developing trade mechanisms independent of Western control. This could appeal to Kim Jong Un, who might view Russia as a key partner for North Korea’s economic development.

A strategic partnership

Ahead of his arrival, Putin suggested that North Korea could benefit economically within an anti-West bloc led by Russia, a notion supported by analysts like Rachel Minyoung Lee from the 38 North program.

In line with this strategic partnership, Putin has ordered the signing of a comprehensive treaty with North Korea, covering security issues among other areas. While the Kremlin claims this partnership isn't directed against any other country, it clearly outlines future cooperation prospects.

Meanwhile, the international community remains wary. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg remarked on Putin’s increasing dependence on authoritarian allies, while Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called for a stronger international response to the “lonely bromance” between Putin and Kim by bolstering arms supplies to Kyiv.

As North Korea eyes advanced military technology and economic cooperation, discussions during this visit could also touch on tourism, agriculture, and mining, despite the potential for violating international sanctions. This historic meeting signals a significant shift in the geopolitical landscape, with implications for global security and economic dynamics.