Putin and Kim Jong-un appear unimpressed at North Korea concert

Vladimir Putin has signed a new defence pact with North Korea
Vladimir Putin has signed a new defence pact with North Korea

North Koreans have given Vladimir Putin a rapturous reception at a Pyongyang gala concert.

A large crowd enthusiastically waved Russian tricolours and the blue and red of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as a long round of synchronised clapping was directed at the Russian leader.

Putin appeared unmoved and maintained a stony expression as he received the applause alongside dignitaries and Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader.

The concert came after the two countries signed a defence pact that includes a vow of “mutual aid” if either is attacked.

Kim Jong-un said that the agreement was of a peaceful and defensive nature, but added that it “will become a driving force accelerating the creation of a new multipolar world”.

Earlier, photos showed the streets of Pyongyang lined with portraits of Putin and Kim, with the façade of the vacant 101-story pyramid-shaped Ryugyong Hotel brightly lit with a giant message saying “Welcome Putin”.


05:03 PM BST

Today’s live coverage has ended.

Today’s live coverage has ended. Here’s a roundup of the day’s events:

  • Putin praised Vietnam’s “balanced” stance on the Ukrainian war ahead of a state visit.

  • North Koreans gave Putin a lavish reception at a gala concert.

  • Putin and Kim Jong-un signed a mutual defence pact in Pyongyang.

  • Putin gave Kim Jong-un a Russian-built limousine, and took him for a ride with it around the North Korean capital.

  • The Russian president touched down in North Korea for his first state visit since 2000.


04:53 PM BST

French defence company to create joint venture with Ukraine

Thales, a leading French supplier of military equipment, has signed three deals with Ukraine including one announcing an intent to create a joint venture in the country.

The company also said it would help Ukraine cut the repair times of its electronic warfare equipment and aim to co-develop and manufacture a drone system capable of releasing munitions.

Thales said that the agreement was signed with the support of France’s ministry of the armed forces, and Ukraine’s ministry of strategic industries.


04:19 PM BST

Putin praises Vietnam’s ‘balanced’ stance on the Ukraine war

Vladimir Putin has praised Vietnam and its Communist-ruled government for its “balanced” stance on the war in Ukraine.

In a comment piece for the Nhan Dan newspaper — the official newspaper of the Communist Party of Vietnam — Putin applauded the country for supporting a “pragmatic way to solve the crisis” in Ukraine.

The Russian leader also affirmed ties between the two countries, stating that they shared similar assessments about the situation in the region and pointed to several Russian energy and science initiatives to be launched in Vietnam.

The article was timed for Putin’s state visit to Southeast Asian country, which is due to begin late on Wednesday. It will be seen as especially important for the Russian leader, as Vietnam, unlike North Korea, has built up careful alliances with the West over past decades.

“Russia wants to send the message that it has friends everywhere in the world and that the West’s effort to isolate Russia is futile,” Alexander Vuving, of the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, said.


03:55 PM BST

Inside the ‘lonely bromance’ of Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un

Once a member of the G8, Vladimir Putin is now reduced to making state visits to Kim Jong-un, the eccentric dictator of a hermit state shunned by all but his Chinese patrons.

But behind the scenes, Western diplomats – and spies – will not be laughing as they try to figure out how this friendship will impact security in Europe and the Pacific.

Read the full article by Senior Foreign Correspondent Roland Oliphant here.


03:35 PM BST

Russia accuses France of stoking conflict in the Caucasus

Russia has accused France of risking conflict in the Caucasus after the country signed a deal to sell artillery weapons to Armenia.

“Paris is provoking another round of armed confrontation in the South Caucasus, and they are doing it in different ways. This [sale] is another step,” Maria Zakharova, the Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, said on Wednesday.

Long-standing ties between Russia and Armenia have frayed in recent years. In September 2023, Russian peacekeepers were reported to have failed to intervene during Azerbaijan’s offensive in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.


03:06 PM BST

Pictured: Ukrainian artillerymen in action

Artillerymen of the 13th Operative Purpose Brigade 'Khartiia' fire a 120mm mortar towards Russian troops on June 19
Artillerymen of the 13th Operative Purpose Brigade 'Khartiia' fire a 120mm mortar towards Russian troops on June 19 - Viacheslav Ratynskyi/REUTERS
Artillerymen rest in a dugout near the village of Lyptsi in the Kharkiv region, June 18
Artillerymen rest in a dugout near the village of Lyptsi in the Kharkiv region, June 18 - Viacheslav Ratynskyi/REUTERS

02:45 PM BST

North Korea hosted children of Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine, Putin says

North Korea hosted children of Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine at a summer camp on the country’s eastern coast, Vladimir Putin has said.

Speaking while on a visit to the reclusive country, Putin thanked Kim Jong-un for the “act of care”.

“I want to thank our Korean friends and personally comrade Kim Jong-un for organising the holiday of the children of killed participants of the special military operation in the Korean camp Songdowon,” Putin said.

“We highly value this genuine act of care and friendship,” he added.

The Songdowon International Children’s Camp was reportedly opened in the 1960s to help North Korea foster international ties by hosting children from overseas.

According to Koryo Tours, a British-run travel company that specialises in North Korea, around 400 international children came to the camp every year before North Korea closed its borders during the Covid pandemic.


02:01 PM BST

Pictured: Ukrainian recruits train for war

A recruit of the 3rd Separate Assault Brigade takes part in military training at a base in Kyiv on June 18
A recruit of the 3rd Separate Assault Brigade takes part in military training at a base in Kyiv on June 18 - ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP
Ukrainian recruits practice manoeuvres near Kyiv, June 18
Ukrainian recruits practice manoeuvres near Kyiv, June 18 - ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP

01:57 PM BST

Russia ‘moves majority of forces on Finnish border to Ukraine’

Russia has moved the majority of its forces previously stationed near Finland to Ukraine, according to Finland’s national broadcaster.

Citing a military intelligence source, the broadcaster said that “80% of the [Russian] equipment and soldiers have been transferred to the war in Ukraine”.

Satellite images showed major changes on the ground. For example, Russian forces stationed in a military base near Petrozavodsk in June 2023 had disappeared as of May 2024.

The report stands in contrast to Russia’s stated intention of reinforcing its Finnish border after the Nordic country joined Nato earlier this year.


01:41 PM BST

Watch: Putin drives Kim Jong-un around Pyongyang in gifted limousine


01:27 PM BST

Only 11% of Russians say Western sanctions have affected them, according to poll

Only 11% of Russians say that Western sanctions have personally affected them or their family, according to a poll released on Tuesday by the Moscow-based Levada Center.

The figure has been declining from a high of 30%, which was recorded in March 2022 shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Despite widespread sanctions, Russia’s economy has remained resilient. The IMF said in April that it estimated Russia’s economy would grow faster than that of all other advanced nations.

The Levada Center is understood to be independent and was labelled as a “foreign agent” by the Kremlin in 2016.


01:04 PM BST

Pictured: Putin and Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang

Putin and Kim Jong-un pose with the new treaty signed by their respective countries
Putin and Kim Jong-un pose with the new treaty signed by their respective countries - KRISTINA KORMILITSYNA/AFP
Vladimir Putin drives Kim Jong-un in a Russian Aurus limousine during their meeting in the North Korean capital
Vladimir Putin drives Kim Jong-un in a Russian Aurus limousine during their meeting in the North Korean capital - Gavriil Grigorov/Sputnik Kremlin

12:25 PM BST

Watch: North Koreans give Putin thunderous applause at a Pyongyang gala concert


12:11 PM BST

Ukraine detains Russian informant recruited via ‘dating chat’

Ukraine has said that it has detained a Russian informant who was recruited by Moscow’s agents on a dating platform.

“The SBU [Ukraine’s security service] seized the man’s phone, used by the suspect to communicate with his Russian ‘friend’ and take photos of military facilities,” the SBU said in a statement.

A spokesman said that Russia planned to use data provided by the informant to launch targeted strikes and assault Kharkiv, where the suspect was living.

“SBU officers detained the informant red-handed when he was taking pictures of special vehicles of Ukrainian soldiers,” the SBU added. The security services said the man faces eight years in prison.

Since Russia invaded in 2022, Ukrainian prosecutors have opened thousands of criminal cases into collaboration with Moscow.


11:57 AM BST

Putin praises North Korea treaty as ‘groundbreaking’

Vladimir Putin has hailed the new Russia-North Korea treaty as a “groundbreaking document” that will raise relations between the two countries to new levels.

“I agree that this is a truly groundbreaking document that reflects the desire of the two countries not to rest on their laurels, but to bring our relations to a new qualitative level,” Russia’s state news agency quoted Putin as saying.


11:31 AM BST

Putin calls for a review of sanctions against North Korea

Vladimir Putin has called for a review of Western sanctions against North Korea.

Speaking after the two countries signed a defence pact on Wednesday, Putin said: “I am noting that the indefinite restrictive regime inspired by the US and its allies at the UN Security Council towards the DPRK should be reviewed.”

According to Izvestia, a Russian newspaper, Putin stated Western countries were using propaganda clichés to hide aggressive intentions.

The Russian leader was also quoted as saying that Moscow and Pyongyang share the same view about the causes of political and military escalation in the region.


11:18 AM BST

Watch: Putin and Kim sign defence pact


11:02 AM BST

Russia, China and North Korea to discuss giving Beijing access to Sea of Japan

Russia, China and North Korea will soon begin negotiations about allowing Chinese ships to pass along the Russia-North Korea border and into the Sea of Japan.

Chinese ships currently have no access to the Sea, as the final section of the Tumen River runs along the Russia-North Korea border.

Russia did not previously support giving Chinese ships access to the sea. However, Moscow has become increasingly reliant on China due to the impact of Western sanctions.

Earlier this year, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin said they had entered into “constructive dialogue” with North Korea over Tumen River access.


09:55 AM BST

Putin gives Kim a limousine

Vladimir Putin has given Kim Jong-un a Russian-built Aurus limousine, according to Russia’s state news agency.

Citing Yuri Ushakov, one of Putin’s advisors, the agency said that the limousine was given along with a tea set and an admiral’s sword.

According to Mr Ushakov, Kim gave Putin various works of art in return.

Aurus was founded in 2018 and specialises in producing Russian presidential and state motorcade vehicles.


09:32 AM BST

Russia and North Korea sign comprehensive strategic partnership pact

Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un have signed a comprehensive strategic partnership pact, Russia media has reported.

The announcement came after the conclusion of Kim and Putin’s one-on-one talks, which lasted roughly two hours.

The agreement will replace Russia-North Korea treaties from 1961 and 2000-2001.

Both leaders are expected to make statements to the media shortly.


09:20 AM BST

Pictured: Aftermath of overnight drone strikes on Ukraine

Damage from a Russian drone strike on the outskirts of Lviv
Damage from a Russian drone strike on the outskirts of Lviv - Roman Baluk/REUTERS
A war crimes prosecutor works at a site of a Russian drone attack in Lviv
A war crimes prosecutor works at a site of a Russian drone attack in Lviv - Roman Baluk/Reuters

09:06 AM BST

Putin’s next stop: Hanoi

Late on Wednesday night, Vietnam is expected to roll out the red carpet for Vladimir Putin, who will arrive fresh from his trip to North Korea.

The visit will be seen as especially important for the Russian leader, as Vietnam, unlike North Korea, has built up careful alliances with the West over past decades.

“Russia wants to send the message that it has friends everywhere in the world and that the West’s effort to isolate Russia is futile,” Alexander Vuving of the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies said.

The US has already condemned Hanoi’s decision to host Putin.


08:39 AM BST

North Korea-Russia relations ‘entering a new era’

Russian state media is reporting that ties between Pyongyang and Moscow are at a historic high.

“Relations between our countries are entering a new era of blossoming, which cannot be compared even with the period of Korean-Soviet relations of the last century,” Kim Jong-un said, according to RIA Novosti.

“The ardent friendship of the two countries will be strengthened,” the North Korean leader added.


08:27 AM BST

Ukraine shoots down 19 kamikaze drones

Ukraine’s air force has said it shot down 19 of 21 Shahed attack drones that Russia launched at the country overnight.

The drones were reportedly intercepted over Kherson, Mykolaiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Kirovohrad, Khmelnytskyi, and Lviv.

In Lviv, a 70-year-old man was hospitalised as a result of falling drone debris.

Shahed drones are Iranian in origin and are designed to ‘loiter’ around a specified area until a target is located and flown into.


07:35 AM BST

Pictured: Crowds welcome Putin to Pyongyang

Crowds wave to the motorcade carrying North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un and and Russian president Vladimir Putin
Crowds wave to the motorcade carrying North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un and and Russian president Vladimir Putin - GAVRIIL GRIGOROV/AFP

07:26 AM BST

‘One-on-one’ negotiations begin behind closed doors

While details of the “new fundamental document” remain unknown, Russia state media RIA reported that the talk ended after 1.5 hours. Afterwards, the leaders will start one-on-one negotiations that are closed to the press, writes Katy Wong.

A long conversation in a one-on-one format is expected, said Yuri Ushakov, an advisor to Putin. A signing ceremony will take place after the negotiations.

The 1961 treaty of friendship and mutual assistance between North Korea and the Soviet Union included a provision for automatic military intervention, which obligated the other party to provide military support if one was under armed attack. The bilateral treaty signed in 2000 by both countries focuses on economic, scientific and cultural cooperation.


06:55 AM BST

Putin invites Kim to visit Moscow

Putin thanked Kim for inviting him to Pyongyang and invited Kim to visit Moscow.

“I am very happy about our new meeting, I hope that the next one will take place in Russia, in Moscow,” Putin was cited by Russian news agencies as saying.


06:52 AM BST

Kim pledges his ‘full support’ for Russia in Ukraine war

Kim has promised his “full support” for Russia in its war with Ukraine.

The North Korean leader vowed his country’s “full support and solidarity to the Russian government, army and people in carrying out the special military operation in Ukraine to protect sovereignty, security interests and territorial integrity” during his talks with Putin.

It wasn’t immediately clear what support from North Korea might look like.

He also hailed Russia’s “important role and mission in preserving the strategic stability and balance in the world”.

“The situation in the world is exacerbating and changing rapidly,” Kim said. “In this situation we intend to strengthen strategic interaction with Russia.”

Putin and Kim Jong-un attend the official welcome ceremony in Kim Il Sung Square
Putin and Kim Jong-un attend the official welcome ceremony in Kim Il Sung Square - Vladimir Smirnov

06:44 AM BST

Kim Jong-un: Russia and North Korea entering new era of prosperity

Russia and North Korea’s ties are entering a period of new prosperity, Kim told Putin during their talks, according to Russian news agencies.

“Relations between our countries are entering a period of new high prosperity,” Russia’s RIA state news agency cited Kim as saying.


06:31 AM BST

Putin will sign deal to boost partnership

Putin said he will sign a “new fundamental document” with Kim to bolster their ties and form the basis for Russia-North Korea relations.

According to Russian news agency, RIA Novosti, the document is expected to establish a “comprehensive strategic partnership” between Russia and North Korea.

“Today, a new fundamental document has been prepared that will form the basis of our relations for the long term,” Putin said.

The document is likely to cover defence matters. Russia claimed that a treaty was needed amid the changes taking place globally and that it will not target third countries.

According to news agency TASS, participants from Russia include Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, First Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov, and authorities in charge of defence, natural resource, transport, railway and health.


06:24 AM BST

In pictures: Grand ceremony welcomes Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin (C-L) and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un attend a welcoming ceremony
Russian President Vladimir Putin (C-L) and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un attend a welcoming ceremony
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un (R) attend a welcoming ceremony
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un (R) attend a welcoming ceremony
Russian state agency Sputnik, North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (Center-R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) walk past children attend a welcoming ceremony at Kim Il Sung Square
Russian state agency Sputnik, North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (Center-R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) walk past children attend a welcoming ceremony at Kim Il Sung Square

06:02 AM BST

Putin ‘appreciates the support’ of North Korea

The first line from talks between Putin and Kim has emerged, with Russian state news agency RIA quoting Putin as saying:

“We highly appreciate your consistent and unwavering support for Russian policy, including in the Ukrainian direction.”


05:46 AM BST

Watch: Huge crowds gather to welcome Putin

An honour guard including mounted soldiers and a large crowd of civilians gathered at the square by the Taedong River. The scene included children holding balloons and giant portraits of the two leaders with national flags adorning the Grand People’s Study Hall.

Kim and Putin then rode to the Kumsusan Palace for summit talks, Russian media said.


05:25 AM BST

Ceremony and negotiations begin between Putin and Kim

The ceremony of the meeting between Putin and Kim started at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang at noon local time on Wednesday, according to Russian news agency, RIA Novosti.

Flags of Russia and North Korea, colourful balloons and huge crowds could be seen from a picture by RIA. The negotiation will take place at the Kumsusan Palace of Sun, which is also the resting place of Kim Il Sung.

The list of countries willing to welcome Putin is shorter than ever, but for Kim Jong-un, this visit is a victory,” said Leif-Eric Easley, professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.

“Not only does the summit upgrade North Korea’s status among countries standing against the US-led international order, it also helps bolster Kim’s domestic legitimacy.”

Putin’s late arrival in North Korea might result in a change in official events. According to the original plan, Putin is expected to visit the Church of the Life-Giving Trinity, the only Orthodox Christian church in North Korea after diplomatic talks.

The diplomatic talks will include topics including security and cooperation in areas of the economy, energy and transportation.

Putin and Kim Jon-un at Pyongyang Sunan International Airport
Putin and Kim Jon-un pictured together at Pyongyang Sunan International Airport - Gavriil Grigorov

04:54 AM BST

What’s on the agenda for today

  • The two leaders will meet for a summit, where they are expected to hold talks discussing ways to boost sanctions-busting military ties

  • Putin is expected to visit the Church of the Life-Giving Trinity, the only Orthodox Christian church in North Korea after diplomatic talks

  • Kim and Putin will reportedly spend nine hours together, with a gala concert, state reception, honour guards, document signings and a statement to the media also planned


04:26 AM BST

Putin and Kim share their ‘inmost thoughts’

The two leaders shared their “pent-up inmost thoughts” and agreed to develop their nations’ relations, North Korean state media said as Putin arrived in the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday morning.

The countries’ partnership is an “engine for accelerating the building of a new multi-polar world” and Putin’s visit demonstrates the invincibility and durability of their friendship and unity, The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

“Passing through charmingly lit streets of Pyongyang at night, the top leaders exchanged their pent-up inmost thoughts and opened their minds to more surely develop the DPRK-Russia relations,” KCNA reported.

Putin received a warm welcome
Putin received a warm welcome - Gavriil Grigorov

04:24 AM BST

What’s happened so far

  • Putin touched down in Pyongyang around 2.45am local time on Wednesday (6.45pm BST Tuesday), with Kim greeting the Russian president at the airport. Kim waited for Putin on the tarmac and embraced him on a red carpet upon his arrival.

  • The two leaders then left in a limousine together to go to Kumsusan State Guest House, where Putin is staying for the duration of his visit.

Putin and Kim Jong-un walk together on the red carpet
Putin and Kim Jong-un walk together on the red carpet - KCNA

04:22 AM BST

Welcome

Good morning and welcome to today’s live blog.

Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un will meet in Pyongyang for talks as the Russian president is officially welcomed to North Korea.

We will bring you the latest news and developments as they unfold today.