Kim Jong Un's historic stay in Russia
In a significant geopolitical event, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un embarked on a six-day visit to Russia that has attracted significant attention around the world. The visit was particularly notable as it was Kim Jong Un's first international tour since the beginning of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Deepening military cooperation
The focus of this engagement appeared to revolve around strengthening military ties. Notably, Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin participated in a symbolic exchange of rifles, which can be considered a testament to their growing military alliance. Additionally, during his stay in Vladivostok, a city located a short distance from the North Korean border, Kim Jong Un received a number of strategic military gifts. These included five explosive drones, one reconnaissance drone and a state-of-the-art bulletproof jacket gifted by the Governor of the Primary Region.
Cultural Immersion and Diplomatic Engagement
Apart from robust military talks, the North Korean leader's itinerary also included a visit to the prestigious Far Eastern State University. A light-hearted segment of their tour included enjoying a walrus display at a local oceanarium, which highlighted a variety of aspects of their trip.
Russian Natural Resources Minister Alexander Kozlov provided insight into their broader deliberations, emphasizing Kim Jong Un's careful attention to detail. The discussions covered multifaceted topics, ranging from potential grain supplies to reviving long-pending infrastructure projects and resuming regular air travel.
Historical Allies Under Global Sanctions
It is important to underline that both Russia and North Korea have been historically allies, sharing mutual sentiments due to their common situation under global sanctions. Russia's ongoing conflict in Ukraine and North Korea's controversial nuclear weapons tests have put them under global scrutiny, forcing them to seek mutual support.
An insight into defense dialogues
An important event during the visit was Kim Jong Un's meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Vladivostok. Both were engaged in intensive inspection of state-of-the-art weapons including hypersonic missile systems. The North Korean news agency, KCNA, also showed Kim wearing a quintessential Russian fur hat and participating in a vodka toast with Shoigu, symbolizing a cordiality beyond formal engagements.
Space exploration and future activities
In an unprecedented announcement during the visit, Putin proposed sending a North Korean astronaut into space. Such an effort would be unique and reflects Russia's intentions to promote closer cooperation in areas beyond land borders. The talks at the new Vostochny Cosmodrome, located 8,000 kilometers from Moscow, seemed to emphasize this point.
Furthermore, Putin's acceptance of Kim's invitation to visit North Korea highlights promising prospects for his further diplomatic visit.
Moscow and Pyongyang: A New Era?
Despite apparent rapport during the visit, the Kremlin remained unconvinced about any concrete agreements, especially regarding military cooperation. However, the nature of Kim's visit, as described by KCNA, resonates with optimism, suggesting the beginning of "a new era of friendship, solidarity and cooperation" between these historical allies.
Kim Jong Un's recent visit to Russia has undoubtedly strengthened relations between North Korea and Russia. Although the full scope and implications of their engagements remain to be seen, it is clear that both countries are keen to enhance their cooperation on various fronts. The world will keenly watch the trajectory of this alliance, especially given the current geopolitical scenario.