North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Wednesday at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia’s most advanced space launch facility.
Kim pledged unwavering support for Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, while Putin said Russia would help North Korea build satellites — dual-use technology that could greatly improve the quality of North Korea’s long-range ballistic missiles.
“I’m sure we will remain together in our fight against imperialism.”
North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin met for about five hours, touring a space base in Russia’s Far East and signaling a unified front against the West. https://t.co/zFQF71VNVY pic.twitter.com/SO5lX59ayb
— ABC News (@ABC) September 13, 2023
When reporters following Kim and Putin on their tour of the Cosmodrome asked about Russia helping North Korea develop satellite technology, Putin replied, “That’s why we came here.”
“The leader of the DPRK shows great interest in rocket engineering. They are also trying to develop space,” Putin said, using the North Korean regime’s preferred name for itself.
North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles shortly before Kim’s meeting with Putin. The South Korean military monitored the dual launches from an area near Pyongyang’s international airport. The missiles are believed to have crossed North Korea’s land mass and come down somewhere in the eastern sea.
South Korean officials said the missile launch was something of a surprise, as North Korea has never previously launched missiles while its leader was out of the country.
Kim expressed his energetic support for the Russian attack on Ukraine, becoming one of the few world leaders to openly wish for “great Russia” to win the war.
“I am deeply convinced that the heroic Russian army and people will brilliantly inherit the tradition of victory, confidently demonstrate invaluable dignity and honor on the fronts of the special military operation,” Kim said, using Putin’s preferred euphemism for his war of conquest.
Russia is now rising to the sacred struggle to defend its state sovereignty and protect its security. We have always supported and stand by all decisions of President Putin and the Russian government. I hope that we will always stand together in the fight against imperialism.
“The Russian army and people will certainly win a great victory in the sacred struggle for the punishment of a great evil that claims hegemony and feeds an expansionist illusion,” Kim said.
Putin responded by noting Russia was the first nation to “recognize the sovereign, independent state of the DPRK” after hostilities subsided in the technically ongoing Korean War.
After touring the Vostochny Cosmodrome, Kim and Putin talked for several hours, then shared a luxurious meal of crab dumplings, sturgeon, mushrooms, and potatoes. Putin would only hint at the substance of these talks, which included Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, so military cooperation of some kind was probably on the agenda.
“There are certain restrictions, Russia is following all of them. 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,” Putin said.
The U.S. and South Korean governments have both warned North Korea against providing Putin with munitions for his war in Ukraine. Military analysts believe North Korea could provide Russia with enough old Soviet-style ammunition to keep the Ukraine war going for a few months, giving Russia enough time to ramp up additional arms production.
“Any transfer of arms from North Korea to Russia would violate multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions. We will monitor what happens and will not hesitate to take action to hold those accountable if necessary,” the U.S. State Department said on Tuesday.
James O’Brien, chief of sanctions coordination at the State Department, sneered that Russia was “scraping the bottom of the barrel looking for help” from North Korea because “It’s having trouble sustaining its military.”
“Russia is now overtly engaging with a country that the U.N. has sanctioned. And that’s very problematic for Russia’s global position,” O’Brien said.
“Cooperation between Russia and North Korea should be made in the direction of contributing to peace and prosperity on the Korean peninsula while adhering to the relevant UN Security Council resolutions,” the South Korean Foreign Ministry said.
On Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reminded Russia that “any form of cooperation of any country with North Korea must respect the sanctions regime that was imposed by the Security Council.”