Putin, Kim swapped dozens of delegation visits before anti-U.S. Pyongyang summit

FPI / June 19, 2024


In the run-up to the June 18 meeting in Pyongyang between North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, the two countries had exchanged more than two dozen high-level government, parliamentary, and other delegations since July 2023, including 18 this year.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, said it was the highest number of such meetings ever between the North and Russia.

In July 2023, for example, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Pyongyang and accompanied North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un to a defense expo and military parade that featured the isolated country’s banned ballistic missiles.

Kim Jong-Un and Vladimir Putin last met at Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome in Sept. 2023. / KCNA

Putin’s large delegation for the “historic visit” this week included his top defense, space agency, and foreign affairs officials.

A letter penned by Putin and a North Korean editorial, both published on June 18, said Russia and North Korea will work together against the U.S. and economic sanctions and expand military cooperation.

Putin started the letter by telling the North Korean people that Russia was instrumental in establishing North Korea and developing its political and economic systems after Japan’s defeat in World War II.

Saying Moscow and Pyongyang are in a common battle with the U.S., he wrote that Washington’s calls for a “rules-based” international order are “nothing more than a global neo-colonial dictatorship relying on double standards.”

The Russian leader thanked Kim Jong-Un for North Korea’s support in Russia’s war against Ukraine and said the two are “ready to confront the ambition of the collective West to prevent the emergence of a multipolar world order based on justice.”

In his letter, Putin added that he and Kim will work to “jointly oppose illegitimate unilateral restrictions, and shape the architecture of equal and indivisible security in Eurasia.”

“We will develop alternative trade and mutual settlement mechanisms not controlled by the West,” Putin said in his letter, which appeared on the front page of the Rodong Sinmun and was also published on the Kremlin website.

North Korea’s editorial stated: “The DPRK and Russia are improving cooperation, communication and militant solidarity while strengthening defense capabilities in the face of reckless schemes of the U.S. and its followers” that threaten each of their security.

The most recent of the high-level exchange of delegations included:

• March 2024: Kozhemyako visited Pyongyang, his second trip in three months.

• March 2024: A Russian culture delegation visited North Korea.

• March 2024: Putin’s foreign intelligence chief, Sergei Naryshkin, held talks in Pyongyang with North Korean Minister of State Security Ri Chang Dae.

• March 2024: North Korea’s external economic relations minister Yun visited Russia again.

• April 2024: North Korea’s education, health, agriculture, youth delegations respectively visited Russia.

• April 2024: A delegation from the Moscow zoo visited Pyongyang and promised to donate more than 40 animals including eagles, fruit bats, parrots, and pythons.

• May 2024: Ri Chung Gil, chair of North Korea’s state commission of science and technology, visited Russia.

• May 2024: Nam Chol Gwang, head of North Korea’s state emergency disaster committee, attended an international security exhibition in Moscow.

• June 2024: A group of North Korean security authorities led by Vice Public Security Minister Ri Song Chol visited Russia.

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