Russian President Vladimir Putin promised to help North Korea build satellites. On Wednesday, he showed Kim Jong Un around Russia’s most modern space launch facility before talks expected to include military matters. The North Korean leader arrived by train at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, nestled among the forests of eastern Russia not far from the Chinese border, after crossing into Russia early on Tuesday. It was his first time visiting Russia since his 2016 trip to Moscow. Putin showed Kim several of the facility’s facilities, including an assembly building for Russia’s new Angara rocket, designed to send objects into low Earth orbit. According to Russian media reports, Kim asked many detailed questions and was also shown a building where Russian space rocket engines are tested.
Putin told the media that he sees possibilities for joint work with the North on space projects but would comply with international obligations. He added that North Korea’s leaders are interested in rocket engineering and the space industry. Asked if the two leaders would discuss weapons supplies, Putin said all issues would be addressed.
North Korea has made tremendous advances with its nuclear and ballistic missile programs despite years of crippling UN-led sanctions supported by Russia. Still, it has not succeeded in putting working spy satellites into orbit. Pyongyang is keen to place such satellites to gather intelligence on its enemies. However, buying or receiving such technology could violate international restrictions imposed on the country by the US and other allies.
The meeting in the Vostochny Cosmodrome underscored the deepening ties between the two countries, the growing convergence of their interests, and the sharp escalation of tensions with the US. During his speech, Kim thanked Russia for supporting the “sacred fight” against hegemonic forces that seek to dominate the world. This is a veiled reference to the United States and its allies, who have been pressing for denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
The Kremlin said during the talks held behind closed doors, the two men discussed bilateral issues, such as economic cooperation, humanitarian aid, and regional security. Kim expressed his gratitude for the warm reception from the Russian people, while Putin praised the leadership of the North Korean state and its military.
The Kremlin said that the two leaders are scheduled to meet again next week in Vladivostok, the capital of Russia’s far East, and to visit defense and other factories in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. A spokesman for the ministry said that the two sides would conduct a full agenda of meetings and negotiations, including talks on humanitarian issues, human rights, and the situation in the Korean peninsula. The two leaders will likely address the sanctions the US and other allies imposed on North Korea. The sanctions aim to cut off North Korea’s access to funds and technology vital to developing its nuclear weapons program.