MOSCOW-Kim Jong Un told President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday he was sure Russia would win a “great victory” over its enemies, as Ukraine’s Western allies warned of a possible Russian arms agreement with North Korea. Russia became a pariah in the West after launching full-scale hostilities in Ukraine last year and has looked to strengthen alliances with other hardline leaders ostracised by democratic countries.
“We are confident that the Russian army and people will win a great victory in the just fight to punish evil groups who pursue hegemony, expansion, and ambition,” Kim told Putin, raising a toast during an official dinner following one-on-one talks.
Kim also praised the “heroic” Russian army in comments that news agencies sponsored by Moscow interpreted as relating specifically to Moscow’s large-scale military operation in Ukraine.
Putin meanwhile praised “the future strengthening of cooperation and friendship between our countries,” while hosting Kim at a Far East spaceport, and later told reporters he saw “possibilities” for military cooperation with North Korea.
He had earlier said Moscow could help Pyongyang build satellites and suggested the countries might also discuss military cooperation.
US officials and experts have said Russia is interested in buying North Korean ammunition to use in Ukraine. Both leaders affirmed historical ties between Moscow and Pyongyang.
“We will always be with Russia,” Kim said, according to footage broadcast on Russian TV.
“An old friend is better than two new ones,” Putin said, quoting a Russian proverb and referencing the Soviet Union’s role in the Korean War.
Their talks as well as discussions with delegations lasted around two hours before the leaders proceeded to the officials dinner in Kim’s honour. Kim will later oversee a display of the potential of Russia’s Pacific fleet in Vladivostok, Putin announced. The two leaders met at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East, with footage released by the Kremlin showing the pair shaking hands enthusiastically as Kim arrived.
The two then toured assembly and launch facilities for the Angara and Soyuz-2 space rocket launchers before sitting down for talks with their delegations.