Russia says it will build ties with North Korea as foreign ministers set to meet

Moscow and Pyongyang have denied arms deals but have said they would deepen cooperation across the board and have staged a series of high-level meetings since last year, including the summit between Putin and Kim.

Peskov said Russia hoped a Putin visit to North Korea, at Kim’s invitation, would take place “in the foreseeable future”, but he said no date had yet been agreed.

“Given that the Russia-North Korea relationship is shaping up to be quite multi-faceted, all kinds of issues can be discussed between Lavrov and Choe,” said Artyom Lukin, at Russia’s Far Eastern Federal University. “If she meets the Russian president, this may be another indication Putin will visit Pyongyang this year.”

A striking sign of deepening ties came in July, when Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Pyongyang and toured a weapons exhibit that included the North’s banned ballistic missiles.

That was followed by Kim’s trip to Russia, his first foreign visit since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“In a nutshell, North Korea feels increasingly insecure and vulnerable vis-a-vis South Korea,” Lukin said. “Russia is currently the only power that can help enhance Pyongyang’s military-strategic security.”

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the visit would include negotiations, but did not elaborate.

She also predicted the trip would spark speculation by the West.

“Westerners are constantly throwing in the story that Russia is somehow behaving differently again, has no right to communicate with North Korea,” Zakharova said on state TV channel Rossiya-1 on Sunday.

“We have the right to do whatever we consider necessary, taking into account the fact that we constantly declare respect for international law.”

Choe said in October that criticism by the United States and its allies of North Korea’s suspected arms deliveries to Russia was politicised and distorted, while saying ties between Moscow and Pyongyang would reach a “new higher phase.”

Russia and North Korea have not commented specifically on the allegations of Moscow using North Korean missiles in Ukraine

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