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North Korea and Russia Buddy Up Amid Western Concerns

INTERNATIONAL: Kim Jong Un made his first trip outside of North Korea yesterday when he traveled to Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin, in what the leaders say is an effort to further cooperation between the two countries, without giving many details on what that means.

During the visit, Putin gave Kim a tour of a Russian space center to demonstrate the country’s spacefaring capabilities. North Korea has failed to launch a spy satellite twice this year and it seems Russia is willing to assist them in their mission. When asked by Russian media if Moscow would help Kim build satellites, Putin said, "That's why we came here."

There was no open discussion of a suspected arms deal brewing between the two leaders, however, Putin gave numerous hints that military cooperation was discussed and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu attended the talks. The Kremlin said sensitive discussions between neighbours were a private matter.

In an interview with CBS last week, Vice President Kamala Harris said, "I think it would be a huge mistake. The idea that they would be supplying ammunition to that end, is - would be a huge mistake. I also believe very strongly that for both Russia and North Korea, this will further isolate them.”

Expert observers of the situation have said that Putin is “scraping the bottom of the barrel” after his army has expended massive amounts of human life and ammunition in the war on Ukraine, with very little tactical gains. They say it is likely that whatever ammunition North Korea can provide is outdated, but that Russia has isolated itself to the point it has to accept whatever help it can get.

The North Korean autocrat invited Putin for a state visit at his convenience and according to the state-run KCNA news agency, Putin accepted the invitation with pleasure. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will visit Pyongyang for more talks next month, the Kremlin said.

While Kim was in Russia, Pyongyang fired two ballistic missiles on Wednesday, the South Korean military said, the latest in a string of sanctions-busting tests. While in Indonesia for the ASEAN Summit earlier this month, South Korean President Yoon called for ASEAN to cooperate with his country on North Korea's denuclearisation, calling it “a direct and existential threat” to the entire region.


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