Vladimir Putin has said Russia is considering and discussing some military cooperation with North Korea, following a summit at which that country’s leader Kim Jong Un appeared to endorse Moscow’s war on Ukraine.
The leaders met at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s far east, as both countries face international isolation over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program.
The meeting came after US officials warned that Russia and North Korea are “actively advancing” in a potential arms deal that could see Pyongyang provide weapons for Moscow to use in its faltering Ukraine war in exchange for sanctioned ballistic missile technology.
Putin was asked if he discussed military-technical cooperation with Kim during the leaders’ meeting. In his response, Putin acknowledged the certain restrictions in place, which Moscow fully complies with, but admitted there are areas open for discussion and consideration, suggesting the presence of potential prospects for cooperation.
“Well, there are certain restrictions, and Russia complies with all these restrictions,” Putin told state-owned Russia 1. “But there are things that we can of course talk about, discuss, think about it. And here too there are prospects,” he added.
Kim said before a toast at a state dinner with Putin that he is “certain that the Russian people and its military will emerge victorious in the fight to punish the evil forces that ambitiously pursues hegemony and expansion.”
Without naming Ukraine, Kim said the “Russian military and its people will inherit the shining tradition of victory” and demonstrate their reputation on the frontline of “military operation,” the euphemistic phrasing Moscow uses to describe its illegal invasion of Ukraine.
“I will always be standing with Russia,” Kim said, praising Moscow for having “stood up against the hegemonic forces” to defend its sovereignty and security, a veiled reference to the United States and the West.
In return, Putin signaled a willingness to assist North Korea in developing its space and satellite program.
“The leader of North Korea shows great interest in space, in rocketry, and they are trying to develop space. We’ll show our new objects,” Putin said. “We’ll talk about all the issues without haste, there is time.”
Video released by the Kremlin Wednesday showed the two leaders shaking hands before touring the space center and adjoining rocket complex, where launch vehicles are assembled and tested, according to Russian state media.
North Korea has made space technology a priority – but has some ways to go, having tried and failed twice this year to launch a spy satellite into orbit.
Kim has also stressed the role of military satellites as a means to protect national safety and territorial stability and has spoken of their strategic value when deploying military force preemptively, North Korean state media reported in April.