North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has recently praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and his military campaign in Syria, expressing his desire to “hold hands” with Putin and deepen their countries’ relationship.
In a letter to Putin, Kim Jong Un praised the Russian leader’s “wisdom and outstanding leadership” in Syria, where Russia has been supporting the government of President Bashar al-Assad in its fight against rebels and Islamic State militants.
Kim Jong Un also voiced his admiration for Russia’s military power, calling it a “mighty country” with “powerful weapon systems.”
The letter, which was published by the North Korean state news agency, marks a significant shift in North Korea’s stance towards Russia. In the past, North Korea has tended to align itself more closely with China, which is its most important ally and trading partner.
However, Kim Jong Un’s praise for Putin suggests that North Korea may be looking to broaden its diplomatic options and increase its leverage in negotiations with the United States and South Korea.
The letter also comes just weeks after Kim Jong Un announced that he was willing to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump to discuss the North Korean nuclear program. While the meeting has not yet taken place, Trump has expressed optimism about the prospects for a breakthrough in the long-standing conflict between the two countries.
However, Kim Jong Un’s overtures towards Putin could complicate matters for the United States, which has been working to isolate North Korea and pressure it into giving up its nuclear weapons.
Russia has been a key player in the international efforts to resolve the North Korean crisis, advocating for a diplomatic solution rather than military action. Putin has also sought to improve relations with North Korea, visiting the country’s capital, Pyongyang, in 2000.
While it is unclear what practical steps North Korea and Russia will take to deepen their relationship, Kim Jong Un’s praise for Putin and his war in Syria suggests that he sees Russia as a powerful ally and potential partner in the complex web of relationships in East Asia.
Whether this will ultimately help or hinder efforts to resolve the North Korean crisis remains to be seen. However, it is clear that Kim Jong Un is looking to expand his diplomatic options and strengthen his hand in negotiations with the United States and South Korea.