North Korea releases letters from Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin vowing to take ties to ‘new heights’

Kim Jong-un wrote to Vladimir Putin promising to boost ties as North Korea and Russia marked the 75th anniversary of bilateral relations.

The North Korean leader congratulated the Russian president on his victory over what he called “hegemony and pressure from imperialists”. He also wished his Russian ally luck in resisting pressure from their common nemesis West over Ukraine.

The exchange of letters comes nearly a month after Mr Kim made a six-day visit to Russia, his first known foreign trip since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, where the two isolated leaders met to discuss ways to prop up each other’s regime.

In his letter, Mr Kim wrote that he was extremely satisfied with their “candid, comprehensive” talks during his recent visit to Russia’s far east last month, and that he wanted to further develop the countries’ relations to reach “new heights”.

"I hope that the Russian people, who have set out to build a strong nation, will always achieve only victory and glory in their struggle to protect the country’s sovereignty, dignity, security and peace by crushing the imperialists’ persistent hegemonic policy and anti-Russia scheme to isolate and stifle it," the North Korean leader said, as reported by Pyongyang’s state media KCNA.

He expressed the “firm belief that the bilateral friendship and solidarity and cooperation, consolidated generation after generation and century after century, will steadily develop onto a new level in the future, too”.

Mr Putin also sent a letter to Mr Kim and said their latest meeting was more evidence of developing ties.

"I am convinced that to implement the agreements will contribute to further expanding the constructive bilateral cooperation for improving the well-being of the peoples of the two countries and ensuring security and stability in the Korean peninsula and Northeast Asia as a whole," the Russian president said.

During last month’s talks the two leaders discussed military cooperation, a speculated weapons deal and North Korea’s satellite programme.

Foreign officials suspected that the North Korean leader was seeking sophisticated Russian weapons technologies in return for the munitions to boost his nuclear programme as recent satellite photos showed a sharp increase in rail traffic along the North Korea-Russia border.

A minimum of 73 rail cars with packages covered in tarpaulin left for Russia in the first week of October, sparking wide speculation that North Korea was now aiding Russia in military equipment.

Officials in the US and South Korea warned that North Korea and Russia would face consequences if they went ahead with the reported weapons transfer deal in violation with UN Security Council resolutions that ban all weapons trade involving North Korea.