Vladimir Putin Praises ‘Dignity and Courage’ of North Korea, Vowing Russia’s Support on Eve of Visit


Russian strongman Vladimir Putin praised the “dignity and courage” of the communist regime of North Korea, one of the most repressive governments on Earth, in an article published in the state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper on Tuesday.

Putin is expected to arrive in Pyongyang on Tuesday night after a brief stop in the far-east Russian city of Yakutsk. Moscow and Pyongyang both confirmed that Putin would visit the country on Monday, squeezing in a stop to meet dictator Kim Jong-un before a planned visit to communist Vietnam.

Reports in Russian state media indicate that Putin and Kim will engage in “intensive” discussions on trade and defense and that Putin is planning on signing a “comprehensive” agreement with North Korea on various issues. The reports did not offer any specificity on what the agreement would include.

North Korea has enjoyed friendly relations with Russia for years that have grown in the past two years in response to Kim Jong-un vocally supporting Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Kim made his first trip outside the country to Russia, meeting with Putin, in September in the eastern city of Vladivostok and inviting him to Pyongyang.

“Putin accepted the invitation with pleasure and reaffirmed his will to invariably carry forward the history and tradition of the Russia-DPRK [North Korea] friendship,” North Korean state media reported at the time.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un (L) shake hands during their meeting at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Amur region on September 13, 2023. (VLADIMIR SMIRNOV/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Putin’s visit to the country will be his first since 2000 when he held engagements with Kim’s father, then-dictator Kim Jong-il.

Writing in Rodong Sinmun, one of the few legal publications in North Korea, Putin emphasized what he considered the need for anti-American and anti-“Western” states to forge strong diplomatic ties.

“As our reliable comrade and supporter yesterday and today, Pyongyang is willing to resolutely oppose the ambition of the ‘Western group’ to hinder the establishment of a multi-polarized world order,” Putin reportedly wrote. “In essence, the U.S. is making every desperate effort to impose on the world the so-called ‘order based on rules’ [rules-based order] which is nothing but a world-wide neocolonialist dictatorship based on the ‘double standards.'”

“Russia is ready to have an equal dialogue on all the most complicated issues in the past and in the future, too,” Putin asserted.

The Russian leader congratulated leaders of the repressive communist state for “defending their interests very effectively despite the U.S. economic pressure, provocation, blackmail and military threats that have lasted for decades,” appearing to dismiss the legitimacy of sanctions on North Korea. In reality, the strict international sanctions regime on North Korea, imposed through the United Nations, is in response to the country maintaining an illegal nuclear weapons program and regularly threatening its neighbors, as well as documented evidence of widespread atrocities committed against its own citizens.

“We are seeing the DPRK [North Korean] people fight to defend their freedom, sovereignty and national traditions with what strength, dignity and courage,” Putin proclaimed.

Putin also thanked North Korea specifically for “firmly supporting the special military operations of Russia being conducted in Ukraine” and accused “our enemies,” apparently referring to Western states, of supporting “neo-Nazi Kiev authorities.”

Putin stressed:

Russia has incessantly supported and will support the DPRK and the heroic Korean people in their struggle against the treacherous, dangerous and aggressive enemy, in their fight for independence, identity and the right to freely choose their development path.

While brief, Putin’s visit to North Korea is expected to be “very intensive,” Putin’s foreign policy aide, Yury Ushakov, told reporters on Monday, addressing “the economy, energy, transport, agriculture, interregional relations, security issues, issues of cooperation in the international arena, and so on.”

The Russian state media outlet RT reported on Tuesday that Putin had approved a draft of a “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement” expected to be signed in Pyongyang. RT offered no significant details on what the agreement would contain.

In addition to extensive meetings with Kim, Putin will reportedly visit the Jangbaeksan Church, a Russian Orthodox church in the capital, largely there to serve Russian diplomats in town for work. While North Korea once boasted one of the largest Christian communities in Asia, communist dictator Kim Il-sung outlawed Christianity, branding it an enemy ideology and using state violence to destroy the Christian community there. North Korea consistently ranks as one of the world’s most dangerous places to be Christian as a result of state persecution; human rights experts consider being identified as a Christian “effectively a death sentence” in the country.

The Russian government is reportedly seeking to expand Russian tourism to North Korea despite being a predominantly Christian country.

Alexander Kozlov, Russia’s natural resources minister, told reporters on Tuesday that Moscow is negotiating the planning of expanded flights into Pyongyang, “but everything will depend on tourist flows, on people’s interest to the culture of our neighbor.” Kozlov denied that North Korea is a repressive and dangerous rogue state, encouraging Russians to consider traveling there.

People there are very hospitable. They respect the elderly and children. They are very intelligent, educated people who are happy to receive their guests and know how to do it with respect and honor,” Kozlov said. “Believe me, you will like this country very much.”

He added a warning: “You just have to be respectful of everything that is going on, of traditions, of lifestyle – and everything will be fine … “I think that not only Russians, but also other people have nothing to fear there. But especially Russians.”

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