President Vladimir Putin of Russia and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met at the Vostochny Cosmodrome space station in Russia’s Far East to discuss various issues and strengthen their countries’ friendship and ties. Putin expressed Russia’s willingness to assist North Korea in launching satellites, as Kim has shown a keen interest in rocket engineering and space development. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the formal name for North Korea, has been seeking to further its traditional friendship with Russia and support its fight against “hegemonic forces.”
The summit between the two leaders has garnered attention from Washington and its allies, concerned that an agreement on arms trade and defense technology might be reached. However, both Moscow and Pyongyang have denied any intentions of such collaboration. The choice of the Vostochny Cosmodrome as the meeting location is notable, given North Korea’s previous failed attempts to launch satellites.
During the summit, Putin showed Kim the modern space launch facility and the assembly building for Russia’s new space launch rocket, Angara. Kim, who has prioritized launching a spy satellite, has been pushing for the development of ballistic missiles, drones, and attack submarines in North Korea.
Ahead of the summit, North Korea conducted a missile launch in the absence of Kim, demonstrating an increased level of delegation and refined control systems. This launch marked the first time North Korea had conducted such a test while its leader was abroad. However, the purpose of the missile launch was not discussed during the summit.
After their discussions, Putin and Kim enjoyed a lunch consisting of crab dumplings, sturgeon, beef, and Russian wine. The two leaders toasted to each other’s health and expressed confidence in the Russian army and people. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov clarified that Russian-North Korean cooperation, particularly in sensitive areas like military cooperation, is not targeted at other countries.
Kim’s visit to Russia underlines the strategic importance of the relationship between the two countries. The presence of high-ranking defense industry officials in Kim’s delegation suggests a focus on defense industry cooperation. However, any potential deal involving artillery rounds from North Korea’s stockpile would likely be met with opposition from South Korea and the United States due to violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
North Korea’s open support for Russia during the Ukraine conflict has led to a commitment from Putin to expand bilateral ties with North Korea in a planned manner.