Watch: Putin meets Kim as he arrives in North Korea

Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un greeted each other warmly as the Russian president landed in Pyongyang on Wednesday for two days of talks with the North Korean leader.

Putin arrived for his first visit in 24 years, vowing to deepen trade and security ties with the reclusive nuclear-armed state and to support it against the United States.

Russian state media said Putin’s plane touched down in Pyongyang around 2.45am local time (6.45pm Tuesday BST) after a stopover in Russia’s far east.

The rare visit comes as North Korea becomes a key ally to Russia, sending five million artillery shells to Moscow since last summer and dozens of missiles in return for technical support on launching spy satellites.

The head of Russia’s foreign intelligence service expects “good results” from a meeting between Putin and Kim.

Putin is greeted in Pyongyang by a welcome ceremony
Putin is greeted in Pyongyang by a welcome ceremony - KREMLIN.RU

Sergey Naryshkin also said the West will be worried at the sight of two of its enemies in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, on Wednesday

“Probably, we expect some kind of provocation from the West regarding this problem,” he told Russia’s Tass news agency as Putin flew east for the meeting.

Putin is taking a high-powered delegation with him to North Korea, including five ministers in charge of the departments running his war in Ukraine.

North Korea has become a key war ally, sending dozens of missiles and five million artillery shells to Russia since last summer, in return for technical support on launching spy satellites.

In Pyongyang, streets have been decorated with Putin’s portrait and Russian flags. A banner hung on a building reads: “We warmly welcome the president of the Russian Federation.”

Andrey Belousov, Russia’s new defence minister, and his deputy for armaments are part of the Russian delegation – and Mr Naryshkin hinted that he expected more arms supply deals.

“We expect good results from the visit of the Russian president to North Korea. The visit is well-prepared. There will be results,” Mr Naryshkin said.

The two leaders are set to attend a concert and a state banquet
The two leaders are set to attend a concert and a state banquet - EPA

Artillery shells have become vital on Ukraine’s battlefields and analysts have said that North Korean supplies have allowed Russia to build a major advantage.

Yuri Ushakov, Putin’s aide and foreign policy adviser, briefed Russian media that Putin will sign a new “comprehensive strategic partnership agreement” with Kim after a meeting that will focus on “important and sensitive” issues “aimed at ensuring greater stability in the northeast Asian region”.

Afterwards, the two leaders will make statements before laying wreaths at a monument to Red Army soldiers and attending a concert and a state banquet.

The North Korean dictator waves from the doorway of a train carriage, with soldiers and security men standing below him
In 2023, Kim travelled to Russia by train - KCNA

Putin is the only Russian or Soviet leader to have visited North Korea. After he became president on New Year’s Eve in 1999, he rebuilt bilateral relations damaged under Boris Yeltsin because he regarded North Korea as a useful tool to needle the US.

Within two months, Putin had dispatched his foreign minister to North Korea to sign a “treaty of friendship, good neighbourliness and cooperation” in preparation for a trip to Pyongyang in July 2000 to meet Kim Jong-il, the father of the current president.

Kim Jong-il then travelled three times to Russia before he died in 2011. Putin rekindled bilateral relations last year, hosting Kim Jong-un in east Russia and persuading him to back the war in Ukraine.

Writing in North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun state newspaper, Putin thanked North Korea for its support for his invasion of Ukraine.

“We highly appreciate North Korea’s strong support for the Russian special military operation in Ukraine,” he wrote. “Pyongyang was and remains our staunch like-minded person and supporter.”

Putin’s visit coincides with high tensions on the Korean peninsula. On Tuesday, the day he was set to arrive, South Korea’s military fired warning shots after North Korean soldiers crossed the military demarcation line in the border area – the second such incident in a week.

Putin is likely to offer Kim food and military aid
Putin is likely to offer Kim food and military aid - UNPIXS

Some 20 to 30 soldiers crossed over the line, which runs through the middle of the demilitarised zone (DMZ), by 65 feet before moving back north.

The South Korean military said it believed the North Korean soldiers had strayed across the line by mistake.

Putin is set to visit communist-ruled Vietnam for a two-day trip immediately after visiting North Korea, a move that has angered the United States, Vietnam’s largest trading partner.

Vietnam trip angers US

“No country should give Putin a platform to promote his war of aggression and otherwise allow him to normalise his atrocities,” a spokesperson for the American embassy in Hanoi told Reuters this week.

“If he is able to travel freely, it could normalise Russia’s blatant violations of international law.”

Moscow has long enjoyed deep ties with Vietnam, with thousands of Vietnamese citizens studying in the Soviet Union during the Cold War – including the head of the Communist Party, Nguyen Phu Trong.

Historically, Russia has been Hanoi’s largest weapons supplier – and it continues to extract oil and gas from Vietnamese fields in the disputed South China Sea.