Russian defense minister leads delegation to North Korea

A Russian delegation led by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is beginning a three-day visit to North Korea on Tuesday, according to the Russian Defense Ministry and North Korean state media.

The visit, to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, “will help strengthen Russian-North Korean military ties and will be an important stage in the development of cooperation between the two countries,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.

North Korean state newspaper KCNA confirmed the visit.

Meanwhile, a high-level Chinese government delegation is headed to North Korea this week, believed to be the highest-level representatives from Beijing to visit Pyongyang since the isolated country closed its borders during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The United States has previously accused North Korea of providing military aid to Russia for the war in Ukraine, a claim that both Pyongyang and Moscow deny.

Russia and North Korea have traditionally enjoyed close relations dating back to the Soviet era. In 2019, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un embarked on a rare trip abroad, meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East.

Unlike most countries, North Korea has recognized the Crimean Peninsula – which overwhelmingly voted to join Russia in 2014 – as territory belonging to Moscow. In June, Kim praised “the struggle of the Russian people to foil the hostile forces’ escalating threats and challenges to deprive Russia of its sovereignty” amid the conflict with Ukraine.

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