Vladimir Putin has said Russia will build “good neighborly relations” with North Korea on the fourth day of Kim Jong Un’s lengthy visit to the country, amid warnings from the West that Moscow must not break international sanctions targeting Pyongyang.
“Korea is our neighbor. One way or another, we must build good neighborly relations with our neighbors,” Putin said at a press conference on Friday, after the Russian president’s meeting with Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko.
“Yes, there are certain special [circumstances] associated with the Korean peninsula, we are discussing this, discussing it openly,” Putin said, claiming Russia “never violate anything, and in this case, we are not going to violate anything either.”
His comments came after Kremlin officials talked up channels for cooperation between Moscow and the secretive state, which is the target of numerous international sanctions. The national security advisers of the United States, South Korea, and Japan on Thursday jointly issued a warning regarding potential violations of international sanctions by North Korea and Russia.
Kim visited an aircraft plant in the eastern city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur on Friday, according to Russian state media. Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Denis Manturov, said after the tour that Moscow saw “the potential for cooperation both in aircraft manufacturing and in other industries” with North Korea, according to a Russian government press release Friday on its Telegram channel.
“We see the potential for cooperation both in aircraft manufacturing and in other industries – this is especially relevant for achieving the tasks our countries face to achieve technological sovereignty,” he said.
The facility is the country’s largest aviation manufacturing plant and builds and develops warplanes for the Ministry of Defense, including the Su-35S and Su-57 fighter jets, state media TASS reported. Kim’s late father, Kim Jong Il, also visited the plant in 2002.
Images showed Kim and his delegation at the Yuri Gagarin Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Plant (KnAAZ), which is named after the famed Russian cosmonaut, and being shown the inside of a fighter jet, according to Russian state media RIA Novosti.
Accompanying Kim on the tour was the city’s mayor, Alexander Zhornik, and the Khabarovsk Region Governor Mikhail Degtyarev.
The North Korean leader is also expected to travel to the port city of Vladivostok where he will view the military capabilities of Russia’s Pacific Fleet, Russian President Vladimir Putin told state news agency Russia 1.
The tour of key sites in the Russian Far East region came after Putin previously said Russia is considering and discussing some military cooperation with North Korea, following a summit at which Kim appeared to endorse Moscow’s war on Ukraine.
Wednesday’s five-hour meeting at the Vostochny Cosmodrome signaled closer relations between the two countries, both of which face international isolation – Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine and Pyongyang for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program.
The Kremlin said Thursday that Putin had accepted Kim’s invitation to visit North Korea and that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov would also visit the country in October, according to spokesman Dmitry Peskov.