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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Arpan Rai

Russia’s Lavrov thanks Kim Jong-un for supporting Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine

POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov thanked North Korea for aiding Moscow’s war efforts in Ukraine as he landed in Pyongyang for a two-day visit on Wednesday.

Mr Lavrov is in North Korea for meetings viewed as preparatory efforts ahead of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s visit as Moscow and Pyongyang slide closer in diplomatic cooperation against Ukraine and the West.

Moscow “deeply” valued Pyongyang’s “unwavering and principled support” for Russia in the war, Mr Lavrov said, speaking at a reception hosted by North Korean officials on Wednesday.

Mr Lavrov’s visit to Pyongyang happened in the backdrop of Russia’s threat to the US for its decision to send long-range missiles to Ukraine for the first time. Russia claimed the move increased the risks of a direct conflict between Nato and Moscow.

Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed on Tuesday that the Ukrainian military used the US-supplied ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile Systems) for the first time this week and struck two Russian military airfields.

Amid the growing friendship between North Korea and Russia, there was tangible activity of likely military support being sent to Moscow as a US think-tank on Tuesday shared satellite images showing continued activity around a North Korean port near Russia. It captured at least six trips by sea between North Korea’s port of Rajin and Russia’s Dunai port since late August.

These shipments were possibly related to the transfer of North Korean munitions to Russia, the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said.

“Likewise, the Russian Federation extends its complete support and solidarity with the aspirations of the DPRK,” Mr Lavrov said, referring to North Korea by its official name Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. North Korea, he said, has remained unfazed by any pressure of the US and the West”.

This week’s visit will offer a "valuable opportunity" to review and outline practical steps for the implementation of the agreements reached between the two leaders, Mr Lavrov said.

North Korea’s foreign minister Choe Son Hui said the bilateral ties between North Korea and Russia are now developing into an “unbreakable comradely relationship” under the leadership of Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un.

North Korean state media said that the Russian foreign minister’s visit comes at a time when the ties between the two nations have reached a strategic high and will mark a “significant occasion” in further consolidating relations between the countries.”

Photos of Mr Lavrov’s visit shared by North Korea showed he was welcomed by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s foreign minister as people holding flowers and flags of both nations dotted the way.

Mr Lavrov started his visit a month after Russia hosted the North Korean leader Mr Kim in a grand ceremony to mark his rare visit after the pandemic.

During the six-day visit, the North Korean leader extended an invitation to Mr Putin to Pyongyang as the two discussed military cooperation in the backdrop of Russia’s war in Ukraine and tensions in the Korean peninsula.

The Russian foreign minister may also brief North Koreans on the results on Mr Putin’s anticipated visit to China, Russia’s TASS news agency reported.

In a separate incident, a North Korean cargo-passenger ferry that had carried foreign tourists from Japan or South Korea was seen at a drydock at the same port. This could be most likely for maintenance, the CSIS said.

It is not immediately clear if the vessel was used to supplement trade activity between Russia and North Korea.

However, North Korea has recently shared a shipment of weapons with Russia last week, the White House said last week, terming it a troubling development.

The allegations were refused by the Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.

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