Putin and Kim Jong Un meet at cosmodrome in Russian Far East

Vladimir Putin said he and Kim Jong Un would discuss North Korea's fledgling space program, after its recent failed satellite launch

Russian state media released images of the leaders meeting in Vostochny in the Amur region in Russia's Far East (Photo: DW)
Russian state media released images of the leaders meeting in Vostochny in the Amur region in Russia's Far East (Photo: DW)


North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un met with Russian President Vladimir Putin Wednesday as the two arrived at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia's Far East, set for rare talks.

The two leaders met at a remote Siberian rocket launch facility, and began with the inspection of a Soyuz-2 space rocket launch facility.

Their decision to meet at this venue may suggest Kim is seeking Russian assistance for developing military satellites.

"That's why we came here. The leader of the DPRK shows great interest in rocket engineering, they are also trying to develop space," said Putin when asked by Russian reporters whether Russia would help North Korea build satellites.

Kim told Putin that North Korea would be "together" with Russia in what he termed a "fight against imperialism," seemingly a reference to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine and the West's response. 

"Russia has risen to a sacred fight to protect its sovereignty and security... against the hegemonic forces. We will always support the decisions of President Putin and the Russian leadership... and we will be together in the fight against imperialism," Kim told Putin via a translator.

Kim reached Russia in his bullet-proof train, the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported.

He arrived in a limousine that was brought in his train from Pyongyang. Putin said he was "very glad to see" him, and said the meeting was taking place at a "special time," referring to the 75th anniversary of North Korea's foundation.

Kim's translator thanked Putin for the warm welcome despite him "being busy," and said relations with Russia were the "number one priority for our country," according to footage broadcast on Russian TV.

The visit comes amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine and as North Korea continues to test missiles and other military equipment frequently, often defying UN sanctions. 

South Korea reports two ballistic missile launches

At roughly the same time as Putin and Kim were meeting on Wednesday, North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles, said South Korea's military.

The missiles were fired from the Sunan area toward the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan, between 11:43 and 11:53 local time.

"Our military has heightened surveillance and vigilance, preparing for possible additional launches, and closely collaborating with the United States," South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

The Japanese coast guard also confirmed the launch of the two ballistic missiles, saying that they appeared to have fallen outside Japan's exclusive economic zone, with further analysis ongoing.

This latest missile launch is part of a series of prohibited weapons tests conducted by North Korea this year, with the most recent involving two short-range ballistic missiles on August 30. Additionally, North Korea recently faileed in an attempt to place a spy satellite in orbit.

Kim's Russia visit

Kim is being accompanied by top military officials in Russia, and was expected to meet with President Vladimir Putin for discussions centered on defense cooperation.

This is Kim's first meeting with a foreign leader since the country shut down for the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier, he had met with former US President Donald Trump in 2019.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told reporters "The visit of the North Korean leader to Russia is an arrangement between the two countries and pertains to relations between North Korea and Russia."

The visit has raised concerns in the US about potential violations of international sanctions, and the possibility of a weapons deal.

Russia has shown interest in North Korea's stockpile of artillery shells, potentially for use in Ukraine, while North Korea seeks assistance in upgrading its Soviet-era military equipment, particularly for its air force and navy.

The US suggested the two countries were laying the groundwork for military cooperation when Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited North Korea in July. 

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Published: 13 Sep 2023, 3:51 PM