North Korea’s flagship state propaganda outlet claimed on Sunday that Russian strongman Vladimir Putin told the country’s Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui that he would visit Pyongyang “at an early date.”
Communist dictator Kim Jong-un had reportedly invited Putin to North Korea in September during a tour of eastern Russia. Kim’s visit to Russia by train was his first since the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic began in 2020 and Putin’s is expected to be the first visit to North Korea by a world leader following the pandemic.
Kim previously welcomed Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chinese senior Politburo member Li Hongzhong to Pyongyang in July to attend a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the Korean War armistice agreement in 1953, which North Korea incorrectly celebrates as a “victory” in the technically ongoing war. The visits were the first of their kind since 2020.
Moscow welcomed Choe, the foreign minister, from January 15 to 17 and scheduled meetings with several high-ranking Russian regime officials, including Putin as well as her counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and deputy prime minister Alexandr Nobak.
In her conversation with the autocrat, “President Putin expressed deep thanks once again for the invitation of President of the State Affairs Kim Jong Un to visit Pyongyang at a convenient time,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported. Putin “expressed his willingness to visit the DPRK [North Korea] at an early date.”
“The DPRK government warmly welcomes President Putin to visit Pyongyang and is ready to greet the Korean people’s closest friend with the greatest sincerity,” KCNA added.
KCNA did not offer any details on what specific “early date” Putin was looking at for any such visit. The Kremlin did confirm on Sunday that logistical preparation is underway for Putin to travel to North Korea.
“Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated earlier that the dates of Putin’s possible visit to North Korea were being coordinated via diplomatic channels,” the Russian news agency Tass reported.
Putin has not visited North Korea under the leadership of dictator Kim. His last visit to the country occurred in 2000 during the rule of his father, Kim Jong-il.
Elsewhere in the KCNA article, the state outlet celebrated “ushering in a new efflorescence of the DPRK-Russia friendship by vitalizing bilateral exchange and cooperation in all fields.”
“The DPRK side highly appreciated the important mission and role of the powerful Russian Federation in maintaining the strategic stability and balance of the world,” KCNA added, referring to comments from Choe in meetings with Russian officials, “and expressed expectation that the Russian Federation would continue to adhere to independent policies and lines in all fields in the future, too, and thus make a great contribution to international peace and security and the establishment of an equal and fair international order.”
Choe also specifically conveyed North Korea’s full support for Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and joined the Russian leaders in condemning “the negative influence of the U.S. and its allied forces’ irresponsible and unjust provocative acts,” according to KCNA.
Russia and North Korea have been increasingly enthusiastic in their public professions of admiration for each other. Kim made a point to invite Defense Minister Shoigu as his first high-profile post-pandemic guest in July and gave him a personalized tour of a weapons exhibition, indicating to foreign observers that the renewed warmth in bilateral ties was in part fueled by interest in buying each other’s weapons.
“Kim Jong Un, together with Sergei Shoigu, looked round the new-type weapons and equipment,” Rodong Sinmun, the state newspaper of the North Korean communist state, reported in July. “Telling the Russian defence minister about the weapons and equipment which were invented and produced … Kim Jong Un shared with Sergei Shoigu comments on the worldwide trend of weaponry development and its strategy.”
In September, Putin toured the Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia’s most advanced space launch facility, with Kim, reportedly to show him Russia’s satellite technology.
“The leader of the DPRK shows great interest in rocket engineering. They are also trying to develop space,” Putin told reporters.
Kim, in turn, used the opportunity to predict a swift victory for Russia in its nearly two-year-old invasion of Ukraine.
“I am deeply convinced that the heroic Russian army and people will brilliantly inherit the tradition of victory,” Kim reportedly said, “confidently demonstrate invaluable dignity and honor on the fronts of the special military operation.”
“Special military operation” is Moscow’s official name for its invasion of Ukraine.
“The Russian army and people will certainly win a great victory in the sacred struggle for the punishment of a great evil that claims hegemony and feeds an expansionist illusion,” Kim added.
The Russian government sent Kim home with a gift package including a bulletproof vest, a Russian rifle, “five kamikaze drones and a ‘Geran-25’ reconnaissance drone,” an apparent violation of international sanctions on North Korea.
“There are certain restrictions, Russia is following all of them,” Putin insisted. “There are things we can talk about, we’re discussing, thinking. Russia is a self-sufficient country, but there are things we can bring attention to, we’re discussing them.”
North Korea launched its first spy satellite, named the “Malligyong-1,” in November after several failed attempts, fueling speculation that the Russians had aided its success. The communist regime claimed the satellite was taking photos of sensitive American military sites in Guam and the outside of the White House, the latter a public space typically surrounded by American media cameras.
Multiple reports have suggested that North Korea is providing Russia with weapons used in Ukraine, prompting the Putin regime’s generosity. South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol directly accused Russia of buying North Korean weapons during his address to the United Nations General Assembly in September.
“It is paradoxical that a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council [Russia], entrusted as the ultimate guardian of world peace, would wage war by invading another sovereign nation,” Yoon said, “and receive arms and ammunition from a regime that blatantly violates U.N. Security Council resolutions.”
“If the DPRK acquires the information and technology necessary to enhance its WMD capabilities, in exchange for supporting Russia with conventional weapons, the deal will be a direct provocation threatening the peace and security of not only Ukraine, but also the Republic of Korea,” he concluded.
Both the Russian and North Korean governments have denied the allegation.