With a lingering handshake and the type of bombastic language you would expect from two two men trying to ignore their isolation on the world stage Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un have met for talks to prop up each other’s regimes.
The North Korean leader was the most vociferous in his remarks, offering the Russian presient his full support for Moscow’s “sacred fight” against “imperialism” – an obvious nod to the West and Putin’s invas. Kim added that North Korea’s relations with Russia were “the first priority”. Putin said in his opening remarks that he was “very glad” to see Kim.
Both men need each other. For Putin, the aim will be a deal for weapons and munitions to feed his war machine in Ukraine. With a counteroffensive launched by Kyiv in June, Moscow will have been chewing through artillery shells, missiles and other munitions and domestic production is struggling to keep up as Western sanctions bite. When asked if he and Kim would talk about weapons supplies, Putin replied that the two leaders would discuss “all issues”.
For Kim, his nation facing its own sanctions from the UN there will be a push for food and other aid. The location of the meeting – the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the remote region of Amur – is symbolic, with Pyongyang’s leader also after Russian technology to help its satellite and nuclear programmes. Kim’s country has tried – and failed – twice to launch a military spy satellite. When asked if Russia would help the North build satellites, Putin said: “That’s why we came here. The leader of [North Korea] shows great interest in rocket engineering, they are also trying to develop space.”
According to Russian state news agency Tass, when asked about longstanding sanctions against North Korea, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “Russia maintains its position at the UN Security Council, but this cannot and will not hinder the further development of Russian-North Korean relations.”
Kim and Putin have ended their face-to-face meeting that lasted over two hours, Russian media reported. An official lunch – comprising of duck salad, crab dumplings, fish soup, sturgeon with mushrooms, and last of all, a berry dessert – followed.
During the lunch Putin raised his glass and said: “A toast to the future strengthening of cooperation and friendship between our countries… For the well-being and prosperity of our nations, for the health of the chairman and all of those present.”
Kim responded in kind saying: “I propose a toast to Putin’s health.”
Before the meeting with the two leaders, both nations fired off drones and missiles. For Russia it was part of its regular aerial assaults on Ukraine, with Kyiv’s air force saying it intercepted 32 of 44 Shahed-type drones launched over Ukraine overnight, with most of the aimed at the southern parts of the Odesa district. Pyongyang fired two ballistic missiles 10 minutes apart from the Sunan area of capital Pyongyang’s international airport towards the country’s eastern seas, South Korea’s joint chief of staff said.
Both missiles fell outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said. Japan’s Coast Guard said the missiles had already landed but still urged vessels to watch for falling objects.
Meeting the North Korean dictator on Wednesday, Mr Putin declared his support for developing controversial reconnaissance satellites following Pyongyang’s multiple failed attempts to put its first military spy satellite into orbit.
On Wednesday, Mr Putin received Mr Kim at Russia’s most modern space rocket launch site and said he was “very glad to see” him while Mr Kim thanked him for the invitation to visit him “despite being busy”, according to the Russian state media. An idication of how “busy” came with the news that one of the main Russian bases in the Black Sea been struck in a major attack involving 10 cruise missiles fired by Ukraine.
Mr Kim stepped out of his limousine which was brought in his train from Pyongyang after his first stop at the Khasan, at Russia and North Korea’s border on early Tuesday. He walked the red carpet and received a welcome from the military honour guard and a brass band.
It is not known how the North Korean leader commands and controls his country’s missile and nuclear forces while abroad. However, analysts have said recent drills have revealed a system for overseeing nuclear weapons similar to those used in the United States and Russia.
Mr Putin showed his North Korean guests around Russia’s most modern space launch facility in Vostochny Cosmodrome and hailed their 75 years of diplomatic relations.
“We, of course, need to talk about questions of economic cooperation and questions of a humanitarian nature. We have a lot of questions. I want to say that I am very glad to see you. Thank you for accepting the invitation and coming to Russia,” the Russian leader said.
Mr Kim said that their meeting “will be the next step to take relations to a new level” and said he supports “all” of Putin’s decisions.
“Russia has risen to a sacred fight to protect its sovereignty and security… against the hegemonic forces,” Mr Kim told Putin via a translator.
“We will always support the decisions of president Putin and the Russian leadership… and we will be together in the fight against imperialism.”
Mr Kim’s delegation is said to include his foreign minister, his top two military officials, and a number of people with connections to the country’s weapons industry, as well as representatives of the country’s space and technology sectors.
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