North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has issued a gushingly positive message to President Putin, reaffirming his country’s support for Russia whilst managing to avoid mentioning the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
What prompted this?
It was a message of congratulations on Monday which is the National Day of Russia and is just the latest to cement relations between the two countries.
What did Kim Jong Un say?
The North Korean dictator offered his country’s “full support and solidarity” to Moscow, state media reported.
His message, published by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), did not directly mention the war against Ukraine or Moscow’s involvement in any armed conflicts, but praised Putin’s “correct decision and guidance... to foil the hostile forces’ escalating threats.”
The North Korean people, it added, extend “full support and solidarity to the Russian people in their all-out struggle for implementing the sacred cause to preserve the sovereign rights, development and interests of their country against the imperialists' high-handed and arbitrary practices.”
What are these "escalating threats"?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, North Korea is a staunch supporter of Russia and has heavily criticized the US and blamed it for the Kremlin’s full-scale invasion.
It has described that war as a US “proxy war” to destroy Russia and condemned Western military aid to Kyiv.
In public comments made earlier this year, Kim Yo-jong, sister of the North Korean leader, said the US was “crossing the red line” with its decision send Abrams tanks to Ukraine.
She added: “I express serious concern over the US escalating the war situation by providing Ukraine with military hardware for ground offensive, and strongly denounce it.
“The US is the arch-criminal which poses serious threat and challenge to the strategic security of Russia and pushed the regional situation to the present grave phase.”
The US has accused North Korea of supplying Russia with weapons, artillery shells in particular, funneling them through the Middle East and Africa.
Is North Korea playing a role in the war beyond sending messages?
In January, the United States accused North Korea of supplying rockets and missiles to the Russian mercenary group Wagner. Pyongyang denied that allegation.
And in March, Washington claimed to have proof that Moscow was looking to Pyongyang to supply weapons for its offensive in Ukraine, in return for food aid for impoverished North Korea.
As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia has long held the line against increasing pressure on North Korea, which is under multiple UN and Western sanctions over its nuclear weapons and missile programs.
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