Kim Jong-un ‘holds hands’ with Vladimir Putin as Russia-North Korea ties deepen

Kim Jong-un has vowed to “hold hands” with Vladimir Putin in a message that marked another sign of deepening ties between North Korea and Russia. In a message to Putin to mark Russia’s national day on Monday, the North Korean ruler pledged his regime’s “full support” for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, the official KCNA news agency said.

“Justice is sure to win, and the Russian people will continue to add glory to the history of victory,” Kim said in an English translation of the message. Pyongyang has been accused of providing weapons to Russia, while it continues to develop its own arsenal of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons despite years of sanctions imposed by the UN security council, of which Russia is a permanent member.

Russia appears to have turned to North Korea and other “rogue” nations in a desperate attempt to skirt sanctions and export controls to secure the weapons it needs to continue its 16-month war against Ukraine. Kim, who met Putin for the first time in 2019, called for “closer strategic cooperation” between Pyongyang and Moscow, adding that he would “firmly hold hands” with the Russian leader in their common aim to build “a powerful country”, KCNA said. North Korea has triggered international concern with its conspicuous attempts to move closer to the Kremlin, blaming the US and its allies for the war in Ukraine. In March, the US said Moscow was sending a delegation to North Korea to offer food – amid reports of food shortages – in exchange for weapons, in violation of security council sanctions.

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