Putin Visits North Korea to Strengthen Defense Ties Amid Ukraine Conflict

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in North Korea early Wednesday, marking the beginning of a visit aimed at enhancing defense relations between the two nuclear-armed nations as Russia continues its war in Ukraine.

Upon his pre-dawn arrival, Russian television broadcasted images of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un welcoming Putin on a red carpet at Pyongyang’s airport.

The leaders greeted each other with a handshake and embrace before a motorcade escorted Putin along streets adorned with Russian flags.

This trip, Putin’s first to North Korea in 24 years, occurs against the backdrop of heightened regional security tensions, underscored by a recent clash between North and South Korean troops at their shared border.

Moscow and Pyongyang have maintained a strong alliance since North Korea’s establishment after World War II. Their relationship has deepened following Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, which resulted in significant international isolation of Putin by the West.

The United States and its allies have accused North Korea of supplying Russia with critical arms, including ballistic missiles for use in Ukraine, a claim that North Korea denies. However, before his visit, Putin expressed gratitude for North Korea’s support of Russia’s military operations in Ukraine.

“We highly appreciate that the DPRK (North Korea) is firmly supporting the special military operations of Russia being conducted in Ukraine,” Putin wrote in an article published by Pyongyang’s state media on Tuesday.

Putin emphasized that Russia and North Korea are “actively developing the many-sided partnership.” Both nations face extensive United Nations sanctions—North Korea for its banned nuclear and ballistic missile programs since 2006, and Russia for its actions in Ukraine.

Despite these sanctions, Putin praised North Korea for effectively defending its interests against prolonged U.S. economic pressure, provocations, blackmail, and military threats. He also commended the alignment of Moscow and Pyongyang’s positions at the United Nations.

North Korean state media, through the Korean Central News Agency, noted that the visit demonstrates the strengthening bilateral ties, asserting that these relations “are getting stronger day by day.”

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