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Putin says Russia and North Korea will help each other if attacked, taking ties to ‘new level’

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Russia and North Korea have boosted ties to a “new level,” Vladimir Putin said, pledging to help each other if either country is attacked in a “breakthrough” new partnership announced during the Russian president’s rare visit to the reclusive country.

Thousands of North Koreans Chants of “Hello Putin” spread throughout the city’s wide streets Russian North Korean flags and flower bouquets, while Putin opened his ceremony First visit to North Korea in 24 years With a show carefully designed to influence the dictatorship.

The couple then signed the new strategic partnership to replace previous agreements signed in 1961, 2000 and 2001, according to Russian news agency TASS. “The Comprehensive Partnership Agreement signed today includes, among other things, the provision of mutual assistance in the event of aggression against one of the parties to this agreement,” Putin said after the meeting.

Gavriel Grigorov/Pool/AFP/Sputnik/Getty Images

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin exit a reception at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on June 19.

He said the deal includes “the political, commercial, investment, cultural and security fields as well,” describing the agreement as “a truly breakthrough document.”

Putin said the joint exercises involving the United States, South Korea and Japan were “hostile” toward North Korea, and described US policy as “confrontational.” Meanwhile, Kim described the new “alliance” as a “watershed moment in the development of bilateral relations.”

But the agreement between the two authoritarian leaders also raised many questions – including whether Russia’s nuclear deterrent now extends to North Korea, and vice versa, or whether the two countries will now conduct joint military exercises.

Putin was met with overwhelming celebrations at a reception with his counterpart in Kim Il Sung Square in the heart of the North Korean capital, where soldiers, military personnel and children carrying balloons cheered against the backdrop of large pictures of each leader.

The two leaders introduced their officials and stood together during the playing of the Russian national anthem before getting into an open limousine, smiling and waving to the crowds.

The offer reflects North Korea’s dependence on Moscow, and was likely intended to remind the West that Putin still has significant influence in at least some parts of the world, following his all-out invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

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This relationship is important for Russia as well. Multiple governments have accused Pyongyang of supplying weapons to Moscow on their behalf The brutal war in UkraineThis is a charge that both countries denied, despite the presence of significant evidence of such transfers.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un attend a reception on June 19, 2024 in Pyongyang, North Korea.

On Wednesday, Putin gave Kim an Urus as the two leaders exchanged gifts, according to Russian state media — the second time Putin has given his counterpart this car model. According to Putin’s aide, Yuri Ushakov, the Russian leader also presented Kim with a tea set. Ushakov did not specify what Putin received, but said they were “good gifts, too.”

Putin arrived in North Korea in the early hours of Wednesday local time, exactly 24 years to the day he last visited Pyongyang, in a visit that heralds a deepening alliance between the two countries in the face of shared hostility toward the West and international concerns about their growing ties. Military cooperation.

In remarks ahead of the talks between the two, Kim expressed his “full support and solidarity with the struggles of the Russian government, its army and its people,” specifically referring to Moscow’s war in Ukraine “to protect its sovereignty, integrity and territorial stability.” ”

“The situation remains complex and constantly changing, but I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that we will continue to strengthen strategic communication with the (Russian) leadership and engage closely in it,” Kim added.

Putin praised relations between the two countries as built on “equality and mutual respect” and said the expected new bilateral agreement “will form the basis of relations between the two countries for many years to come,” according to Russia’s TASS state agency. He also added that he hopes Kim will visit Moscow for their next meeting.

The burgeoning relationship has raised concern in both Seoul and Washington, not only about North Korea’s arms transfers to Russia, but also about the possibility of Moscow transferring superior military technology to aid Pyongyang’s weapons program, which is under heavy sanctions.

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Vladimir Smirnov/Sputnik/Pool/Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attend an official reception at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea on June 19, 2024.

Video footage of the arrival of Russian leader Kim, the third generation leader of the family that ruled North Korea with an iron fist, showed him welcoming Putin at the airport in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

This historic visit represents a major boost for Kim, who remains isolated on the world stage and has not hosted another world leader in his capital since the outbreak of the epidemic.

This comes as tensions remain high on the Korean Peninsula, where Kim in recent months has intensified his belligerent tone and scrapped a long-standing policy seeking peaceful reunification with South Korea amid concern in Pyongyang about tightening coordination between the United States, South Korea and Japan.

North Korean state media appeared to play a major role in strengthening the close relationship between Kim and Putin, describing them as “exchanging their pent-up deep thoughts and opening their minds to develop (North Korea and Russia) relations more affirmatively.” Airport to Kumsusan State Guesthouse where Putin is staying.

Putin’s trip comes on the heels of Kim’s historic visit to Russia last year, where the two leaders were widely seen as opening this new chapter in their relationship built on Putin’s need for North Korean weapons for its ongoing offensive.

Russia received more than 10,000 shipping containers – the equivalent of… 260,000 metric tons Ammunition or munitions-related materials – from North Korea since September, according to the United States statement In February. Russian forces have also fired at least 10 North Korean-made missiles into Ukraine since last September, a US official also said. He said in March.

The Russian leader is widely seen as looking to secure this continued support, which may be particularly urgent with the delayed arrival of US military aid to Ukraine.

Putin also sought to link today’s meeting to historical relations between Moscow and Pyongyang. He told Kim, according to Russia’s official TASS agency, that “the exploits of previous generations” were “a good basis for developing relations” between the two countries.

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ITAR-TASS/AFP

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, upon his arrival in Pyongyang, Wednesday, July 19, 2000.

Putin’s last visit to Pyongyang was in 2000 to meet Kim’s late father and predecessor Kim Jong Il. This trip, which came weeks after Putin inaugurated his first term as president, made him the first Russian head of state to visit North Korea.

Kim the eldest then He visited Moscow in 2001He made a marathon nine-day train trip across Russia to attend the meeting, in what was his second foreign trip after a previous visit to China.

In 2000, the two countries also signed a new cooperation agreement. In contrast to the 1961 document between the Soviet Union and North Korea, this new iteration did not include reference to mutual military defense assistance, but was seen as an important step in reviving the fraught and closely interconnected relationship.

The two neighbors enjoy deep relations on the Korean Peninsula. Kim’s grandfather Kim Il Sung rose to power in the late 1940s as part of Soviet efforts to install a Communist-controlled government in the north to rival the US-backed government in the south after the defeat of the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II.

But the integral relationship has soured and transformed in the intervening decades, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the new state of Russia establishing diplomatic relations with Seoul and supporting multiple UN sanctions on North Korea’s weapons program.

The latest wave of diplomacy comes as shared frustrations with the West have brought the two countries closer together – a trend that observers say has now been accelerated by the war in Ukraine, and has seen North Korea gain a powerful friend in the UN Security Council.

In March, Moscow It vetoed a UN resolution To renew independent monitoring of North Korea’s violations of Security Council sanctions — raising concerns about the relationship weakening controls on Kim’s illegal weapons program.

This story has been updated.

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