North Korea's Foreign Minister meets Putin in Moscow, signals closer ties
North Korea's Foreign Minister, Choe Son Hui, returned on Friday from a significant visit to Russia, where she met with President Vladimir Putin.
The trip, a rare high-level exchange, signals closer cooperation between the two nations—a development that the United States warns could dramatically alter Pyongyang's security threat.
The state news agency KCNA reported Choe's return without providing details of her meetings in Moscow. Earlier in the week, KCNA announced that Choe and her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, discussed enhancing "strategic and tactical cooperation." Their conversation aimed to implement the agreements made between their leaders in September to strengthen bilateral ties.
Choe's visit to Moscow is the latest in a series of high-level interactions since last year. These exchanges have drawn increasing scrutiny due to allegations of Pyongyang's involvement in the Ukraine conflict, including accusations of supplying artillery and missiles to Russia. Both North Korea and Russia have denied these allegations, as well as claims that Pyongyang is receiving advanced military technology from Moscow.
Pranay Vaddi, White House Senior Director for Arms Control, emphasized the significance of the recent exchanges between North Korea and Russia. On Thursday, he described them as "an unprecedented level of cooperation in the military sphere." Vaddi expressed concern about the potential regional implications, stating, "I think the nature of North Korea as a threat in the region could drastically change over the coming decade as a result of this cooperation."
Accompanying Choe was Jo Chun Ryong, a high-ranking official overseeing North Korea's munitions industry and a director in the ruling Workers' Party. Ryong participated in Choe's meeting with Putin, underscoring the focus on defense and strategic collaboration.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov referred to North Korea as "a very important partner," highlighting the two countries' commitment to developing "relations in all areas, including in sensitive areas." Choe's meeting with Putin took place on Tuesday, following her discussions with Lavrov, marking a notable step in deepening North Korea-Russia relations.