Putin to visit N. Korea in coming weeks, Russian media reports

Posted on : 2024-06-11 16:51 KST Modified on : 2024-06-11 16:52 KST
If the visit does indeed happen, it will be Putin’s second visit to North Korea and his first in 24 years
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin stand for a photo ahead of their summit in Russia’s Far East on Sept. 13, 2023. (KCNA/Yonhap)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin stand for a photo ahead of their summit in Russia’s Far East on Sept. 13, 2023. (KCNA/Yonhap)

Russian news outlets have reported that President Vladimir Putin could visit North Korea as early as this month.
Russia’s Vedomosti newspaper cited a diplomatic source to report that Putin will visit North Korea and Vietnam “in the coming weeks,” and that the Russian president could visit Vietnam “as early as June, which will likely take place immediately after he visits North Korea.”
After starting his fifth term as president on May 7, Putin chose China as the first country to visit, with the visit taking place on May 15-16. That trip was closely followed by visits to Belarus, on May 23-24, and Uzbekistan, on May 26-28.
If his visit to North Korea is confirmed, it will mark Putin’s second visit to the country and his first in 24 years. On July 19, 2000, two months after Putin began his first term as president that May, he visited North Korea and held a summit with then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. Through that trip, Putin became the first Russian leader to visit North Korea.
The plan to visit North Korea appears to be a gesture of reciprocity after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited Russia on Sept. 12-17 of last year. North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency reported at the time that Kim had used the summit to invite Putin to North Korea. 

On May 30, directly after Putin started his fifth term as president, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko announced that preparations for a visit to North Korea are at an “advanced stage.”
Some believe that Putin’s visit to North Korea functions as a warning to the US. Vedomosti pointed out, “Although the treaty of friendship, cooperation, and mutual assistance between North Korea and Russia do not specify military cooperation, there is the possibility that the two countries will consult each other on how they will respond to situations in which the peace and security of the two countries are threatened.”
“Moreover, the resumption of high-level consultations between Russia, China and North Korea could be a signal to Washington, which is creating a regional military bloc consisting of Japan and South Korea,” the newspaper added.
Furthermore, some predict that Russia, now over two years into its war with Ukraine, will use this state visit to North Korea to speed up military cooperation with North Korea.
Vedomosti reported that it is likely that the two leaders will discuss the possibility of bringing migrant workers from North Korea, seeing as Russia faces a severe labor shortage following the war in Ukraine due to conscriptions and young people fleeing overseas. The newspaper also predicted that Putin may discuss with Kim the possibility of restoring the two countries’ economic trade and economic ties to their state prior to Western sanctions.
However, it is difficult to confirm that Putin will visit North Korea until he steps foot into the country. Vedomosti quoted officials who said it was highly likely that high-ranking Russian officials have already visited or are preparing to visit North Korea in preparation for Putin’s visit. The newspaper also noted how North Korea traditionally keeps the dates of state visits under wraps until the very last minute, as can be seen in how Kim Il-sung’s visit to the USSR in 1984 was announced only after the train he was on had crossed the border.

By Hong Seock-jae, staff reporter

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