Announcement was made by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The streets of the North Korean capital were filled Wednesday with enthusiastic crowds, mounted soldiers and large portraits — not of Kim Jong Un, but of his guest and growing ally, Vladimir Putin.

In a rare visit to the reclusive nuclear-armed state, the Russian leader and his host signed a new pact promising to help each other in the event of an attack, a significant step in deepening their military and economic cooperation as both countries they face a massive wave of global sanctions and confrontations with the United States and its allies.

The deal could expand military technology transfers to Pyongyang in exchange for much-needed munitions supplies to Moscow’s military for its war in Ukraine. U.S. officials previously told NBC News that such transfers could greatly increase North Korea’s nuclear capabilities and threaten the Asia-Pacific region.

Kim, who has been accelerating weapons tests and stoking tensions with U.S. ally South Korea, pledged his “full support” on Wednesday for what Russia calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Putin’s visit on Wednesday, his first to North Korea in 24 years, comes as Kremlin forces press for advances in eastern and northern Ukraine, while Kiev’s defenses are bolstered by new commitments from the their own allies.

He arrived at noon for a welcome ceremony at Kim Il Sung Square in central Pyongyang, named after Kim’s grandfather and founder of North Korea.

In front of a large crowd of civilians, Putin and Kim greeted authorities on a red carpet in front of the city’s central library, from where two giant portraits of them appeared. Military bands played the national anthems of both countries and children waved balloons and Russian and North Korean flags.


Kim and Putin then left for summit talks at Kumsusan Palace.

“We greatly appreciate your consistent and unwavering support for Russian policy, including towards Ukraine,” Putin said in opening comments before the talks began, according to Russian state media.

He also said Russia was fighting “the imperialist policy that the United States and its satellites have imposed for decades against Russia.”

Russian state media reported that Kim said Russia-North Korea relations were “entering a new period of great prosperity” and that North Korea “will unconditionally support all Russian policies.”

Talks between delegations from the two countries lasted about an hour and a half, followed by individual discussions between Kim and Putin that lasted another two hours, Russian state media reported.

Earlier, Kim was at Pyongyang International Airport to greet Putin upon his arrival in the early hours of Wednesday, shaking his hand and hugging him, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency. He then accompanied Putin in his limousine to the Kumsusan State Guest House, where the Russian leader would be staying.

The agency said the two leaders “exchanged their most intimate thoughts” during the trip and that their meeting demonstrated the “invincibility and durability” of Russia-North Korea ties.


Putin last visited Pyongyang in 2000 to improve ties with Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, while the current North Korean leader’s visit to Russia’s far east last year offered signs of a deepening relationship.

On Wednesday, Putin called the strategic agreement a “fundamental document” that would shape the long-term relationship between Russia and North Korea.

The deal could “lay the groundwork for arms trade and also facilitate their anti-US, anti-Western coalition,” said Lami Kim, a professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Center for Asia-Pacific Security Studies in Honolulu.

Western authorities are concerned about the sharing of weapons and information that could help Putin’s army in Ukraine and threaten the US and its allies in Asia.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that Russia was trying “in desperation to develop and strengthen relationships with countries that can provide it with what it needs to continue the war of aggression it has started against Ukraine.”

He said North Korea has been providing Russia with “significant munitions” as well as other weapons for use in Ukraine.

U.S. intelligence officials believe Putin is providing North Korea with nuclear submarines and ballistic missile technology in return, six senior U.S. officials told NBC News. The Biden administration, they said, is concerned that Russia will help North Korea complete the final steps needed to field its first submarine capable of launching a nuclear-armed missile.

Both North Korea and Russia have denied any arms transfers, which would violate United Nations Security Council resolutions that Russia has supported in the past.

Russia ended monitoring of UN sanctions against North Korea with a Security Council veto earlier this year, prompting accusations that Moscow was avoiding scrutiny and joining China in protecting Kim from the consequences. of its weapons tests.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that any cooperation must not violate existing resolutions and “undermine regional peace and stability.”

Pyongyang may also gain access to the oil and natural resources much needed for its decimated economy and missile program.

“Their cooperation will further undermine the effectiveness of sanctions,” said Kim, the professor in Honolulu.

It’s also a personal victory for the North Korean leader, she said, as “being seen with a world leader like Putin would also be a big victory” for domestic propaganda efforts to elevate him to the cult status enjoyed by the North Korean leader. your father and your grandfather.

“There are economic gains and reputational gains,” she said.


Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are at their highest in years as Kim increases the pace of weapons testing and the U.S., South Korea and Japan step up joint military exercises that the North sees as a rehearsal for invasion. Last year, Kim set aside his goal of unification with the South, raising concerns that he could be preparing for an all-out attack.

The rival neighbors have stepped up psychological warfare, exchanging trash-filled balloons and blasting music from loudspeakers. South Korean troops fired warning shots on Tuesday after North Korean soldiers briefly crossed the heavily fortified border, apparently by mistake.

The two remain technically at war after the Korean War ended in 1953 with an armistice rather than a peace treaty.

After leaving North Korea on Wednesday, Putin is expected to visit Vietnam, which improved its relationship with the US during a visit by President Joe Biden last year.

The US rebuked Vietnam for the visit, with a State Department spokesperson telling NBC News: “No country should give Putin a platform to promote his war of aggression and allow him to normalize his atrocities.”

Stella Kim reported from Seoul, South Korea, and Mithil Aggarwal reported from Hong Kong.

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