North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin convened for an unusual summit, delving into discussions on military affairs, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, and the potential for Russian support in North Korea’s satellite program.
The summit commenced with Putin escorting Kim, who had traveled by train from North Korea, on a tour of Russia’s cutting-edge space rocket launch site, the Vostochny Cosmodrome.
Kim exhibited keen interest, peppering Putin with detailed inquiries regarding rockets and their mechanisms.
Following the tour, the two leaders, with an age difference of 31 years, engaged in several hours of discussions alongside their respective ministers before engaging in a one-on-one conversation.
This was followed by a lavish lunch featuring Russian “pelmeni” dumplings prepared with Kamchatka crab, sturgeon accompanied by mushrooms and potatoes.
Kim proposed a toast to Putin’s well-being, the triumph of “great Russia,” and the enduring friendship between Korea and Russia, expressing his belief in Russia’s victory in the ongoing Ukraine conflict.
Amid concerns from U.S. and South Korean officials regarding potential weapons and ammunition exchanges between Kim and Russia, Putin alluded to discussions about military cooperation but refrained from divulging specifics.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was present at the talks, with the Kremlin emphasizing that sensitive issues were not suitable for public discussion.
In response to inquiries about assistance with satellite development, Putin cryptically stated, “That’s why we came here.” The summit also served as an opportunity for Russia to needle the United States, a staunch supporter of Ukraine.
Putin announced that Kim planned to visit military and civilian aviation factories in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Russia, and inspect Russia’s Pacific fleet in Vladivostok.
During the lunch, the two leaders addressed each other as “comrades,” with Putin underscoring the Soviet Union’s historical support for North Korea.
As the Ukraine conflict continued as a protracted artillery war, observers watched closely to see if Kim’s visit might lead to the supply of artillery to Russia.
Russia, alongside China, opposed new sanctions on North Korea, thereby publicly dividing the U.N. Security Council for the first time since sanctions were imposed in 2006.
The choice of the Vostochny Cosmodrome as the meeting location was notable, given North Korea’s recent failed attempts to launch reconnaissance satellites.
Kim, showing considerable interest in rocket engineering, visited the site where Russia’s new 42.7-meter space launch rocket, Angara, is assembled.
En route to Russia by train, North Korea conducted its first short-range ballistic missile launch while Kim was abroad, demonstrating an enhanced level of delegation and refined control over its nuclear and missile programs.
With an agenda focused on defense industry cooperation, Kim’s delegation included Jo Chun Ryong, Director of the Munitions Industry Department.
Putin summarized their meeting, citing an old Korean proverb: “Good clothes are those that are new, but old friends are best friends.
” He added, “This folk wisdom is fully applicable to modern relations between our countries.”