Tue. Oct 3rd, 2023
Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un Discuss Satellite Program in Russia Meeting

Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met at a cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East to discuss various issues, including Pyongyang’s satellite program. Putin expressed that they would discuss “all issues” when asked about obtaining supplies from North Korea to replenish Russia’s weapons stocks. Defense cooperation between the two countries is believed to be a top agenda item for the meeting, which is closely watched by the United States and its allies.

The meeting took place at Vostochny Cosmodrome, a modern space launch facility in Russia’s Far East region. Putin warmly welcomed Kim as they shook hands for about 40 seconds. Kim thanked Putin for the invitation and his warm reception.

The summit between Russia and North Korea, both increasingly isolated internationally, raises concerns among Washington and its allies about the potential trade of arms and defense technology. U.S. and South Korean officials worry that Kim may provide weapons and ammunition to Russia, which has depleted its stocks due to the conflict in Ukraine. However, both Moscow and Pyongyang have denied intentions of such cooperation.

The choice to meet at Vostochny Cosmodrome, a symbol of Russia’s space ambitions, is notable since North Korea had experienced failures in launching reconnaissance satellites in the past months. Putin mentioned that they came to the cosmodrome because Kim has shown great interest in rocket engineering and space development.

Kim’s priority is to launch a spy satellite as he seeks to enhance North Korea’s ballistic missile, drone, and attack submarine capabilities. During the meeting, Putin showed Kim around the facility where Russia’s new space launch rocket, the Angara, is assembled.

Ahead of the summit, North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea off its east coast. This was the first such launch while Kim was overseas. The leaders may also discuss sensitive areas of cooperation that won’t be made public, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Other potential topics of discussion include humanitarian aid to North Korea and U.N. Security Council resolutions imposed on Pyongyang. The talks are considered important given the geopolitical changes in the world and the significance of the Korean Peninsula for regional security and stability.

Kim’s delegation includes top defense industry and military aides, suggesting a focus on defense industry cooperation. While Kim could offer artillery rounds from North Korea’s stockpile to replenish Russia’s capabilities, concerns about the ammunition’s quality may limit its overall impact.

North Korea openly supported Russia in the Ukraine conflict, and Putin recently pledged to expand bilateral ties with North Korea.