North Korea’s Kim vows to support Russia’s ‘just fight’ during summit with Putin

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed to support what he described as Russia’s “just fight” during a rare summit with Russian President Vladimir Zelensky on Wednesday.

Kim and Putin met at the Vostochny Cosmodrone, Russia’s launch center, on Wednesday, and Kim vowed “full and unconditional support,” adding that North Korea will always stand with Russia against the “anti-imperialist” west. 

The United States has expressed concern that the summit Wednesday will lead to an arms deal as the two countries escalate their standoffs with the west. As Moscow continues to wage war on Ukraine, Russia is looking to North Korea to help supply munitions – something Putin desperately needs. 

The two leaders met for four to five hours Wednesday. The fact that they met at Russia’s important launch pad, analysts say, suggests North Korea might be looking to Russia for assistance in developing military satellites.

Kim has described this step as critical as he continues to sound the alarm about what he views as an increasingly threatening alliance between the U.S. and South Korea.

The North Korean leader departed for Russia on Sunday and brought with him an official in charge of munitions policies, Jo Chun Ryong, along with other Worker’s Party officials. Putin also brought his Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, to participate in the delegation, according to Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov. 

Shoigu previously visited North Korea in July, causing speculation about the two countries increased military cooperation. 

The trip also marks the first time Kim has left the country since the pandemic, during which time the country posed significant restrictions on border crossings.

When his personal train stopped at a station along the countries’ shared border, in Khasan, he was met with military honor guard and a brass band. There was also a red carpet rolled out for him, according to North Korean state media, and he was greeted by the regional governor.

Russia, which has in the past supported U.N. Security Council-backed sanctions against North Korea, would be violating the international agreement if it enters into a munitions deal with the Pyongyang. 

“No U.N. member state should violate Security Council sanctions against North Korea by engaging in an illegal trade of arms, and must certainly not engage in military cooperation with North Korea that undermines the peace and stability of the international community,” South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lim Soo-suk said at a briefing Tuesday. 

The United States has previously accused North Korea of supplying Russia with arms to aid in the invasion of Ukraine — but both countries have denied the allegations.

The Associated Press contributed reporting.  

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