RUSSIA/NORTH KOREA: Russian President Vladimir Putin told North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that the two countries will “expand the comprehensive and constructive bilateral relations with common efforts,” Pyongyang’s state media reported on Monday.
In the letter sent to Kim Jong Un on Pyongyang’s liberation day, Putin said the move would be in the interests of both countries.
On the other hand, Jong Un said the friendship between the two nations was established in World War II with the victory over Japan.
He added that their “companionship friendship” will strengthen. The Soviet Union was once North Korea’s main communist ally, offering economic cooperation, cultural exchanges and aid.
According to North Korea’s state news agency KCNA, Putin said expanded bilateral relations would be “in line with the interests of both countries”.
Kim said in his letter that the friendship between Russia and North Korea “consolidated in the anti-Japanese war” had been “consolidated and developed century after century.”
He added, “Strategic and tactical cooperation, support and solidarity between the two countries has been raised to a new high level on a common front to thwart the military threat and provocation of enemy forces.”
Pyongyang has not identified the enemy forces by name, but the term has been repeatedly used by North Korea to refer to the US and its allies.
In July, North Korea was one of the few countries to officially recognize two Russian-backed separatists as “people’s republics” in eastern Ukraine after Russia signed a decree declaring them independent.
In retaliation, Ukraine, which is fighting a Russian invasion of its territory, cut off all diplomatic ties with Pyongyang. Russian forces are still trying to consolidate their control over the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, but Ukraine is fighting back offensively.
Russia’s ambassador to Pyongyang, Alexander Matsegora, told the Russian daily Izvestiya that closer cooperation could mean “highly skilled, hardworking” North Korean workers helping to rebuild damaged infrastructure in Russian-controlled Donetsk and Luhansk.
He also said that Pyongyang is interested in having spare parts for Soviet-era heavy equipment from eastern Ukraine supplied to its factories and power plants. He said that Slovyansk and Kramatorsk – cities still held by Ukrainian forces – are the main centres of this equipment.
Russian-North Korean relations declined after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, but have gradually picked up as Russia’s relations with the West have deteriorated in recent years.