Russian President Vladimir Putin has accepted an invitation from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to partake in an official visit to his country, raising concerns about a potential strengthening of relations between these two often isolated nations.
There are fears that this renewed relationship could lead to increased North Korean military involvement in Ukraine and the transfer of Russian aerospace technology to the Stalinist regime in Pyongyang.
The invitation was extended during a summit held on Wednesday at the remote Vostochny Cosmodrome near Tsiolkovsy in far-eastern Russia. Throughout the meeting Putin and Kim discussed a range of military related topics.
During their four-hour conversation at Russia’s premier spaceport, the leaders reportedly addressed each other as “comrades.”
Kim’s visit included a tour of the launch facility and discussions with the two leader’s respective defense ministers. The choice of location has led many western observers to suggest that Kim is looking toward Russia for help with his nation’s satellite launching capabilities.
North Korea has recently failed in several attempts to launch its own satellites.
Also on Wednesday, Kim expressed North Korea’s support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying “Russia has risen to a sacred struggle to defend its state sovereignty and protect its security in opposition to the hegemonic forces that oppose Russia.”
Kim additionally stated that North Korea’s “very first priority is relations with the Russian Federation.”
On Friday, Russian state TV reported that Kim arrived at Komsomolsk-on-Amur where he is expected to visit a fighter jet factory, and then travel to Vladivostok to tour the Russian naval forces stationed there.
The U.S. State Department has stated that the Biden administration will impose additional sanctions on the two countries if they engage in any new arms agreements.