SEOUL, South Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un offered Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday his country’s “full and unconditional support” for Russia’s “sacred fight” to defend its security interests, in an apparent reference to the war in Ukraine, and said Pyongyang will always stand with Moscow on the “anti-imperialist” front.
Kim also called North Korea’s relations with Russia “the first priority.”
The leaders met at a remote Siberian rocket launch facility for a summit that underscores how their interests are aligning in the face of their countries’ separate, intensifying confrontations with the United States.
Putin in his opening remarks welcomed Kim to Russia and said he was glad to see him. Putin listed economic cooperation, humanitarian issues and the “situation in the region” among the agenda items for their talks.
The two men began their meeting at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia’s most important domestic satellite launch center, with a tour of a Soyuz-2 space rocket launch facility, at which Kim peppered a Russian space official with questions about the rockets. Kim and Putin then met together with their delegations and later one-on-one, according to Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.
Following the tour, the two leaders headed a meeting of their delegations, and then spoke one-on-one.
The meeting came hours after North Korea fired two ballistic missiles toward the sea, extending a highly provocative run in North Korean weapons testing since the start of 2022, as Kim used the distraction caused by Putin’s war on Ukraine to accelerate his weapons development.
Putin welcomed Kim’s limousine, brought from Pyongyang in the North Korean leader’s special armored train, at the entrance to the launch facility with a handshake that lasted around 40 seconds. Putin said he was “very glad to see” Kim. Kim’s translator thanked Putin for the warm welcome, “despite being busy.”
The decision to meet at Cosmodrome suggests that Kim is seeking Russian technical assistance for his efforts to develop military reconnaissance satellites, which he has described as crucial in enhancing the threat of his nuclear-capable missiles. In recent months, North Korea has repeatedly failed to put its first military spy satellite into orbit. / AP