As expected, the leaders of North Korea and Russia met up on Wednesday. The meeting between DPRK leader Kim Jong Un and President Vladimir Putin happened against the backdrop of a Ukrainian attack this morning — via missiles and drones — on Russian forces in the Black Sea, which left one ship and one sub destroyed.
But the summit also came just hours after Pyongyang launched more missile tests, thought to boast of Kim’s iron grip on the hermit nation’s military while he is abroad — or indicate displeasure by the North Korean authoritarian at recent remarks by the U.S. over the meeting, according to an Associated Press report:
Wednesday’s meeting came hours after North Korea fired two ballistic missiles toward the sea, extending a highly provocative run in testing since 2022, as Kim used the distraction caused by war in Ukraine to accelerate his weapons development.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said they landed in waters outside the country’s exclusive economic zones and there were no reports of damage.[…]
South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, said it was the first time the North launched a missile while Kim was abroad.
Kim could have ordered them to show he is in control of military activities even while outside the country, said Moon Seong Mook of the Seoul-based Korea Research Institute for National Strategy.
Moon, a retired South Korean brigadier general who participated in inter-Korean military talks, said the North could have also intended to express anger after U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said Putin was meeting “an international pariah to ask for assistance in a war.”
The report included details on Putin’s and Kim’s pivotal summit:
North Korea’s Kim Jong Un vowed “full and unconditional support” for Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Wednesday as the two leaders isolated by the West held a summit that the U.S. warned could lead to a deal to supply ammunition for Moscow’s war in Ukraine.
The meeting, which lasted over four hours at Russia’s spaceport in the Far East, underscores how the two countries’ interests are aligning: Putin is believed to be seeking one of the few things impoverished North Korea has in abundance -– stockpiles of aging ammunition and rockets for Soviet-era weapons.
In return, it’s possible Pyongyang will seek help from Moscow on not only shoring up monies for its impoverished people, but “developing military reconnaissance satellites” — a part of Kim’s nuclear weapons plan:
The decision to meet at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia’s most important launch center on its own soil, suggests Kim is seeking Russian help in developing military reconnaissance satellites. He has previously said that is crucial to enhancing the threat of his nuclear-capable missiles, and North Korea has repeatedly failed to put its first military spy satellite into orbit.
Putin gave some hints on what the leaders would discuss:
Putin spoke of the Soviet Union’s wartime support for North Korea and said the talks would cover economic cooperation, humanitarian issues and the “situation in the region.”
But in an interview before the meeting with Russian state TV, Putin hedged on any suggestion that they would be speaking on “military cooperation”:
Russia and North Korea have “lots of interesting projects” in spheres like transportation and agriculture, Putin said. Moscow is providing its neighbor with humanitarian aid, but there also are opportunities for “working as equals,” he added.
He dodged the issue, however, of military cooperation, saying only that Russia is abiding by the sanctions prohibiting procuring weapons from Pyongyang. “There are certain restrictions, Russia is following all of them. 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,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kim said his nation would continue to show “support” for Moscow in its war with Ukraine:
Russia is currently engaged in a just fight against hegemonic forces to defend its sovereign rights, security and interests. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has always expressed its full and unconditional support for all measures taken by the Russian government, and I take this opportunity to reaffirm that we will always stand with Russia on the anti-imperialist front and the front of independence.
We’ll keep you posted on any developments.