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Putin, Kim Endorse Multipolar World at Official North Korean Welcome

Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un commenced official events on Wednesday at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, as reported by Russian media. The two leaders vowed to strengthen their nations’ relations. Kim warmly welcomed Putin upon his arrival at Pyongyang’s airport for a rare visit early Wednesday, sharing “pent-up inmost thoughts” during their ride to the state guest house in Pyongyang, according to North Korean state media.

Russian media photos depicted soldiers and a large crowd of civilians at the square by the Taedong River, which flows through the capital. The crowd included children holding balloons and giant portraits of the two leaders, with national flags decorating the Grand People’s Study Hall.

Putin, making his first visit to the North Korean capital in 24 years, arrived before dawn. This visit is expected to reshape Russia-North Korea relations, especially as both countries face international isolation. North Korea’s state news agency, KCNA, stated that the countries’ partnership is a “driving force for building a new multipolar world,” and Putin’s visit underscores the strength and endurance of their friendship and unity.

Russia has leveraged its growing ties with North Korea to challenge Washington, while North Korea, under heavy sanctions, has secured political support and promises of economic aid and trade from Moscow.

The United States and its allies express concern that Russia may aid North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs, which are prohibited by U.N. Security Council resolutions. They have also accused Pyongyang of supplying ballistic missiles and artillery shells that Russia has utilized in its war in Ukraine. Both Moscow and Pyongyang have denied these weapons transfers.

Kim greeted Putin with a handshake, an embrace, and a conversation beside the Russian leader’s plane. The two then traveled in Putin’s Russian-made Aurus limousine to the Kumsusan State Guest House.

Given the early hour, the welcome was relatively subdued, with Kim greeting the Russian leader on the red carpet. This stood in contrast to the grand ceremony North Korea organized for Chinese President Xi Jinping during his 2019 visit.

Passing through the charmingly lit streets of Pyongyang at night, the top leaders exchanged their “pent-up inmost thoughts” and discussed ways to more securely develop DPRK-Russia relations, KCNA reported, using the initials of North Korea’s official name. State media photos depicted the streets of Pyongyang adorned with portraits of Putin, and the facade of the unfinished and vacant 101-story pyramid-shaped Ryugyong Hotel brightly lit with a giant message reading “Welcome Putin.

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Wednesday’s agenda includes one-on-one discussions between the two leaders, a gala concert, a state reception, honor guards, document signings, and a statement to the media, as reported by Russia’s Interfax news agency, citing Putin’s foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov.

Signaling a shift in Russia’s approach to North Korea, Putin praised Pyongyang ahead of his arrival for resisting what he described as U.S. economic pressure, blackmail, and threats. In an article on the front page of North Korea’s main ruling party newspaper, he promised to “develop alternative trade and mutual settlement mechanisms not controlled by the West” and to “build an equal and indivisible security architecture in Eurasia.”

Putin’s article suggests an opportunity for North Korea’s economic growth within an anti-Western economic bloc led by Russia. This message is likely appealing to Kim Jong Un, wrote Rachel Minyoung Lee, an analyst with the 38 North program in Washington. “If Pyongyang views Russia as a viable longer-term partner for improving its economy—as irrational as this may seem to some—there is even less incentive for it to try to improve relations with the United States,” she said in a report.

On the eve of the visit, Putin issued a presidential order stating that Moscow was looking to sign a “comprehensive strategic partnership treaty” with North Korea. Ushakov mentioned that the treaty would include security issues. He also noted that the deal would not be directed against any other country but would “outline prospects for further cooperation.

Ryan Foxworth
Ryan Foxworth
Ryan Foxworth is a seasoned financial analyst and writer, specializing in market trends, investment strategies, and economic analysis. His expertise lies in interpreting complex financial data and forecasting market movements with precision. Ryan holds an MBA degree, where he focused on finance and macroeconomics. Prior to his writing career, he worked as a portfolio manager at a leading investment firm, managing diverse portfolios and advising high-net-worth clients on wealth management strategies.

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