President Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un enjoyed a “historic meeting and talks” on Wednesday as the two leaders met at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East.
Here are the key takeaways…
1) Military cooperation
First things first: It wasn’t just the two old friends who met for dinner. Putin is looking for sources to provide more weapons for his war in Ukraine, and Kim is always looking for a way to circumvent his position as a long-isolated pariah on the international stage.
There were no specific announcements on weapons, but in an interview with Russian state television on Wednesday, Putin said there were “opportunities” for military cooperation with North Korea despite international sanctions.
He added: “There are certain limitations… There are options within the existing rules that we note and are discussing.”
Russia is in urgent need of artillery ammunition and has increased domestic production from 1.7 million in 2022 to an expected 2.5 million shells this year, AFP reports.
But with Moscow forces firing up to 60,000 shots per day, according to Ukrainian data, “Russia’s increased production capacity may be below its actual battlefield needs,” said Yohann Michel, an analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). .
Ukrainian drone attacks aircraft production facility in Russia’s Tver region
The Ukrainian Military Intelligence Agency (HUR) reported that a drone attack was carried out against a Russian industrial facility producing aviation products.
In a study published on Friday, the German Council on Foreign Relations concluded that “Moscow needs imports if it wants to maintain the current intensity of its war effort over a longer period of time.”
North Korea has large stocks of Soviet war material – albeit in unknown condition – and is itself mass-producing conventional weapons.
In return, Pyongyang may want oil and food from Russia or even access to space technology.
2) A North Korean in space?
The location of the meeting – Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome – was no coincidence, and according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the two discussed the possibility of Moscow supporting North Korea’s own space program.
“We discussed that if the North Korean side wishes, a North Korean cosmonaut can be trained and sent into space,” Russian state media quoted him as saying.
A North Korean has never been to space, and the country’s two attempts to put a spy satellite into orbit both failed.
However, it clearly hasn’t dampened Kim’s enthusiasm for all things space, and as he toured the assembly and launch facilities for the Angara and Soyuz-2 space rocket launchers, Kim showed off[ed] “There is a lot of interest in missile technology,” Putin said, adding: “They are trying to develop further.” [their presence in] Space.
Putin also said Russia could help North Korea build satellites.
3) “A great win”
In an unsurprising announcement, Kim told Putin that he was confident Russia would achieve a “great victory” over its enemies, even as what Russia claimed was a days-long “special military operation” was now in its 19th month pulls.
“We are confident that the Russian army and people will achieve a great victory in the just struggle to punish evil groups that seek hegemony, expansion and ambition,” he said while toasting an official banquet.
Further adding to the praise, he also praised Russia’s “heroic” army, adding: “We will always be by Russia’s side.”
In return, Putin said: “One old friend is better than two new ones.”
4) The next target
Kim didn’t go straight home, but headed to the Russian Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok.
Putin explained the purpose of the visit: “In Vladivostok there is also a military component in accordance with the Ministry of Defense, but this is only intended to demonstrate the capabilities of the Pacific Fleet.”
It is safe to assume that Kim will not receive a demonstration of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, as some of it looks like this after the Ukrainian missile strike yesterday…
5) The counter-invitation
After the meeting, North Korean state media reported that Putin had accepted an invitation to a reception with Kim in Pyongyang.
“Kim Jong Un has politely invited Putin to visit the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at an appropriate time,” North Korea’s central news agency KCNA reported.
“Putin accepted the invitation with joy and reaffirmed his will to always continue the history and tradition of friendship between Russia and the DPRK.”
So what’s the verdict?
“The summit signals a seismic shift in Northeast Asian geopolitics,” Kim Jong-dae, a former lawmaker and visiting scholar at the Yonsei Institute for North Korea Studies, told AFP.
A stronger alliance between North Korea, Russia and China could become a “destabilizing force in the region,” while munitions from Pyongyang could significantly impact the war in Ukraine.
“I think Russia has already tested the North Korean grenades on battlefields and is now ready to expand their use in the future. And neither the US nor South Korea have addressed the implications of such an arms deal between Russia and the North,” he said.
“With Kim Jong Un’s recent visit to Russia, it can be said that North Korea-Russia relations have fully returned to the level of a blood alliance during the Cold War,” Cheong Seong-chang, a researcher at the Sejong Institute, told AFP.
“There have been many summits between North Korea and Russia so far, but there has never been a time when North Korea has included almost all of its key military officials, like now.”
Source : www.kyivpost.com