North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un pledged his full support for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “sacred struggle” against Ukraine on Wednesday.
Putin hosted Kim for a rare summit at a space facility in Russia’s far east on Wednesday, the first such meeting in four years. Putin seeks further support for his war in Ukraine as military resources are stretched thin, while Kim’s regime is pushing for assistance with its space program and its desiccated economy.
“Russia is now rising to the sacred struggle to defend its state sovereignty and protect its security,” Kim told the Russian leader in a video statement released by the Kremlin and reported by the Washington Post. “We have always supported and stand by all decisions of President Putin and the Russian government. I hope that we will always stand together in the fight against imperialism.”
Putin also greeted Kim with warm words, vowing firmer economic ties for the next 75 years and noting that “It was our country that was the first to recognize the sovereign, independent state of the DPRK,” referring to North Korea’s formal title of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Putin and Kim’s regimes have become isolated from the global community, with waves of sanctions devastating their economies and leaving few opportunities for other partnerships.
North Korea is not the first malign actor Russia has turned to in its effort to refill its arms supplies. Putin has also purchased missiles and explosive drones from Iran, in addition to other supplies.
Meanwhile, the U.S. has warned that any arms deal between North Korea and Russia would violate U.N. Security Council resolutions that Russia itself voted to approve. Any deal would likely focus on artillery shells and ammunition.
“Arms discussions between Russia and the DPRK are expected to continue during Kim Jong Un’s trip to Russia,” White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said Tuesday. “We urge the DPRK to abide by the public commitments that Pyongyang has made to not provide or sell arms to Russia.”
Kim’s regime continued its months-long show of force even in its leader’s absence, launching two ballistic missiles into the sea hours before the meeting.
Fox News’ Elizabeth Pritchett contributed to this report.