|Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shake hands during their meeting at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the far eastern Amur region of Russia, Wednesday. AP-Yonhap|
Kim pledges Pyonyang's full-fledged support in fight against West
By Kang Seung-woo
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a summit, Wednesday, at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, a space station in Russia's far eastern Amur region, where Pyongyang received assurances of Moscow's assistance in satellite technology.
In the lead-up to the much-heralded meeting between Kim and Putin, there had been growing speculation over a possible arms deal. In addition, the venue for the summit also indicated that the two are interested in talks to exchange Moscow's military technology for Pyongyang's artillery shells for use in Ukraine.
|Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visit the Vostochny Cosmodrome outside of the town of Tsiolkovsky, some 180 km north of Blagoveschensk in Russia's Amur region, Wednesday. EPA-Yonhap|
Russia is becoming more desperate for artillery shells to resupply its arsenal for the war in Ukraine, while North Korea seeks Russia's help to build satellites. Attesting to this, Putin, who is famous for being late to summits, waited for Kim at the venue for 30 minutes.
When asked about the potential transfer of space technology, Putin said before meeting Kim, "That's why we came here. The leader of the DPRK shows great interest in rocket technology, they are trying to develop space," according to Russia's state-run RIA Novosti news agency. The DRPK refers to North Korea's official name, or the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
He was also quoted as saying that the North Korean delegation will be shown new objects.
"We, of course, need to talk about issues of economic interaction, about humanitarian issues, about the situation in the region," Putin said, opening the meeting, according to RIA Novosti.
In return, Kim assured Putin that North Korea supports all decisions of Russia and is ready to further develop bilateral relations, expressing hope that both countries will always fight together against imperialism, the report added.
"Russia is currently engaged in a just fight against hegemonic forces to defend its sovereign rights, security and interests," the North Korean leader said, according to the Associated Press. "I take this opportunity to affirm that we will always stand with Russia on the anti-imperialist front and the front of independence."
Before the summit, Putin showed the North Korean leader around Russia's Soyuz-2 space rocket launch facility, with Kim asking detailed questions about rockets. When Kim arrived at the spaceport for the summit, the two heads of state shook hands and had a brief conversation.
The North Korean leader thanked the Russian president for the invitation to his country and in response, Putin said he was glad to see Kim, adding that the meeting took place on dates that are significant for North Korea, the report said.
Their talks lasted four to five hours and the two leaders are believed to have discussed military cooperation.
Putin dropped hints about Russia's military cooperation with North Korea, but details remain under wraps, with the Kremlin saying they talked about "sensitive issues which are not to be discussed in public."
According to RIA Novosti, Putin said Russia complies with international obligations, but there are opportunities for cooperation within the framework of the rules.
During their lunch, Kim said that he and Putin agreed to deepen their "strategic and tactical cooperation."
"We believe with certainty that the Russian army and people will achieve a great victory in the just fight to punish the evil forces pursuing hegemonic and expansionary ambitions and create a stable environment for national development," the North Korean leader said, according to the Associated Press.
|North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting at the Vostochny Cosmodrome outside the city of Tsiolkovsky, Russia, Wednesday. AP-Yonhap|
During their official dinner, Kim proposed a toast to Putin's health, the victory of "great Russia" and North Korea-Russia friendship, according to Reuters.
RIA Novosti reported, citing Putin, that Kim would continue his tour of Russia's Far East with a visit to Vladivostok and factories in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. Putin said Kim will be presented with a display of the potential of Russian warships in the Far East.
South Korea's foreign ministry reiterated its position that it is too early to comment on the Kim-Putin meeting, because they did not disclose the outcome, and an official noted that "the Russia-North Korea cooperation should be about contributing to the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula, while complying with United Nations Security Council resolutions."
Also gaining attention is China's response to the summit. China's foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said during a press briefing on Tuesday, "The DPRK leader's visit to Russia is an arrangement between the two countries."
The summit was widely presumed to focus on military cooperation between the two sides, with North Korea providing ammunition and weaponry for Russia's war in Ukraine and Moscow returning the favor by transferring weapons technology involving spy satellites and nuclear-powered submarines.
The location of the meeting drew tremendous attention, because North Korea failed twice to launch what it calls military reconnaissance satellites.
It was the first meeting between the two leaders since their 2019 summit in Russia's far eastern city of Vladivostok.
This year marks the North's 75th founding anniversary, 70th anniversary of the victory in the 1950-53 Korean War and 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Russia.
|North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin visit the Vostochny Cosmodrome outside the town of Tsiolkovsky, Russia, Wednesday. EPA-Yonhap|
NK fires 2 short-range ballistic missiles
Hours ahead of the Kim-Putin meeting, North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea, according to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).
The JCS said it detected the launches from an area in or around Sunan in Pyongyang between 11:43 a.m. and 11:53 a.m. They traveled some 650 kilometers each before landing in the ocean.
It was North Korea's 16th ballistic missile launch of the year, according to a military source.
The JCS strongly condemned the latest launches as "significant acts of provocation" that violate U.N. Security Council resolutions banning North Korea from using ballistic missile technology.
"While preparing for additional provocations from North Korea, our military is closely monitoring activities and signs from the country in close coordination with the United States," the JCS said in a text message sent to reporters.