North Korea leader Kim Jong-un promised “full and unconditional support” for Vladimir Putin during their summit held at Russia’s spaceport in the Far East on Wednesday.
Alignment of interests: The meeting, which lasted over four hours, highlighted both nations’ alignment of interests, with Putin reportedly seeking North Korea’s stockpiles of aging ammunition and rockets for Soviet-era weapons. The U.S. previously warned of a potential arms deal between Putin and Kim, which could involve North Korean munitions for Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Possibility of military cooperation: Putin offered Kim technological assistance for launching a satellite into space and hinted at the possibility of military cooperation. The location of the summit at Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome suggests Kim’s interest in Putin’s help with developing military reconnaissance satellites as North Korea has failed in launching such satellites.
Experts believe that Russia’s perception of a U.S. threat in its eastern flank may lead it to provide technical assistance to North Korea, including reentry technology for intercontinental ballistic missiles and advancements in submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
Kim’s missile test: North Korea reportedly conducted a short-range ballistic missile test just hours before the summit, which may have been intended to demonstrate the nation’s defense posture and assert Kim’s control over military activities even while abroad.
Kim’s support: The details of Kim and Putin’s cooperation in sensitive areas were not disclosed publicly. However, Kim expressed support for Russia’s efforts in what appears to be a reference to Ukraine.
“Russia is currently engaged in a just fight against hegemonic forces to defend its sovereign rights, security and interests,” Kim said.
“The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has always expressed its full and unconditional support for all measures taken by the Russian government, and I take this opportunity to reaffirm that we will always stand with Russia on the anti-imperialist front and the front of independence.”
Despite the missile launches and potential military cooperation, the leaders also discussed economic projects and humanitarian aid. Following the summit, Kim’s visit to Russia will continue with plans to visit Vladivostok, which is home to the Russian navy’s Pacific fleet.