Russian President Vladimir Putin has told North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un that he wishes to expand ties between Moscow and Pyongyang, according to state media.
North Korea’s KCNA news agency said on Monday that Putin sent a letter to Kim on the 77th anniversary of the end of Japan’s occupation of the Korean peninsula, saying closer ties would be in the interest of both of their countries.
Russia and North Korea will “continue to expand the comprehensive and constructive bilateral relations with common efforts,” Putin wrote, adding that this would help strengthen the security and stability of the Korean peninsula and the Northeastern Asian region.
Kim also sent a letter to Putin saying Russian-North Korean friendship had been forged in World War II with victory over Japan, which had occupied the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945.
The “strategic and tactical cooperation, support and solidarity” between the two countries has since reached a new level, Kim wrote, particularly in their common efforts to frustrate threats and provocations from hostile military forces.
KCNA did not identify the hostile forces, but it has typically used that term to refer to the United States and its allies.
Kim predicted cooperation between Russia and North Korea would grow based on an agreement signed in 2019 when he met with Putin.
North Korea in July recognised two Russian-backed breakaway “people’s republics” in eastern Ukraine as independent states, and officials raised the prospect of North Korean workers being sent to the areas to help in construction and other labour.
Ukraine, which is resisting a Russian invasion described by Moscow as a “special military operation”, immediately severed relations with Pyongyang over the move.
Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride, reporting from the South Korean capital, Seoul, said the exchange of letters come at a time that both leaders faced international censure – Kim over his country’s nuclear and missiles programme and Putin over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“It is an interesting letter coming at an interesting time,” McBride said.
“Both of these leaders face isolation in the international community. For Kim Jong Un, it has of course been longstanding. For Vladimir Putin, it’s been far more recent. But no less consequential.
“There does seem an almost inevitability about the two leaders drawing closer,” he said.