Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Historic Visit to North Korea

President Vladimir Putin of Russia landed in North Korea today (June 18) for his first official visit in 24 years
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Historic Visit to North Korea

Before flying to his summit with North Korea's supreme leader Kim Jong Un, Russian President Vladimir Putin thanked the country for backing his actions in Ukraine and offered "close cooperation" to overcome Western sanctions. Vladimir Putin, Russia's President, arrived in North Korea today (June 18) for his first official visit in 24 years, according to reports. This visit follows an invitation given by North Korea's supreme leader Kim Jong Un to Putin in September 2023. Putin last visited Pyongyang in July 2000, and this itinerary highlights Moscow's growing alliance with the neighboring nuclear-armed state following its invasion of Ukraine. Meanwhile, Kim has traveled to Russia twice — both times by train. One in 2019 and another in 2023, where the couple was photographed toasting each other with Russian wine. According to the Kremlin, Putin will visit Vietnam on June 19-20 following his visit to North Korea. In a previous report, Putin's foreign policy adviser, Yuri Ushakov, said that the two countries could pursue a partnership arrangement that included security issues. Ushakov stated that the agreement would not be directed at any other country, but would "outline prospects for further cooperation, and will be signed taking into account what has happened between our countries in recent years — in the field of international politics, in the field of economics... including, of course, security issues."

In an op-ed essay published by North Korean official media hours before his arrival, Putin stated that Russia and North Korea would continue to "resolutely oppose" what he regarded as Western efforts "to impede the establishment of a multipolarized world order based on mutual respect for justice." Putin also stated that Russia and North Korea will create trade and financial channels "that are not controlled by the West" and will reject sanctions against the countries, which he defined as "unilateral and illegal restrictive measures.” Putin went on to say that the countries will increase cooperation in tourism, culture, and education.

Putin's group is notable for including Russian Defence Minister Andrei Belousov, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, Putin's point man for energy. In the United States, the White House expressed concern over Russia and North Korea's growing ties. The US State Department said it was "quite certain" Putin would seek weapons to assist his campaign in Ukraine.Russia has gone out of its way to highlight its newfound ties with North Korea after being isolated during its invasion of Ukraine. The United States, its allies, Europe, and Asia, particularly South Korea, have all raised the alarm.

Washington claims North Korea provided Russia with weaponry for its struggle in Ukraine, despite Pyongyang and Moscow's repeated denials. Speaking with reporters on June 17, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller reaffirmed the claims, stating: "North Korea supplied dozens of ballistic missiles and over 11,000 containers of munitions to Russia for use in Ukraine."

"The United States has seen Putin become increasingly frantic in recent months, looking to Iran and North Korea to compensate for lost weapons on the battlefield. So I'm fairly positive that's what he's up to," Miller continued. South Korea's vice foreign minister, Kim Hong-kyun, spoke with deputy secretary of state Kurt Campbell in an emergency phone chat on Friday about Putin's visit to Pyongyang, according to Seoul's foreign ministry. The ministry voiced fear that the visit might lead to increased military collaboration between Pyongyang and Moscow, which it said violated UN resolutions.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have reached their greatest point in years, with Kim's missile tests and coordinated military exercises between the US, South Korea, and Japan rising in a cycle of tit-for-tat. The Koreas also engaged in Cold War-style psychological warfare, with North Korea dropping tons of rubbish on the South via balloons and the South blaring anti-Korean propaganda through its loudspeakers. In March 2023, the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague issued an arrest warrant for Putin in connection with alleged war crimes in Ukraine. However, the ICC does not include Vietnam, Russia, or the United States.