Russian President Vladimir Putin praised North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Thursday, saying that the head of state has outperformed his adversaries, according to the Kremlin-backed outlet Russia Today.
In comments made by the Russian President speaking with Russian journalists during a meeting with domestic media outlets, Putin described Kim as “already an absolutely shrewd and mature politician.”
“I believe, Mr Kim Jong-un has certainly won this round,” Putin said of the North Korean leader.
Kim Jong Un “has a nuclear (charge) and a … missile with a range of up to 13,000 kilometers that can reach almost any place on Earth or at least any territory of his potential adversary,” he added.
While Putin referenced the range of North Korea’s Hwasong-15 Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), Russia has previously disputed DPRK claims that its other long-range missile – the Hwasong-14 – was indeed an ICBM as well.
The comments follow the staging of the first high-level inter-Korean talks since December 2015, following peaceful overtures by Kim Jong Un towards his southern neighbors during his annual New Years Day speech.
The result of Tuesday’s talks was a joint statement from the two Koreas, which pledged further talks on the DPRK’s participation in the upcoming PyeongChang Olympics, as well as on military and diplomatic issues.
The two Koreas said they agreed that Pyongyang will send a “high-level delegation, representatives of National Olympic Committee, athletes, cheering and performing art squads, a taekwondo demonstration team, and reporters” to the upcoming games – which take place in February and early March.
In an effort to allay tensions, the U.S. and South Korea had already agreed to postpone scheduled joint military exercises during the Paralympics Winter Games.
“It would be a big help to make PyeongChang Olympics a peace Olympics and guarantee its success if you express your intention to delay the ROK-U.S. joint military drills during the period of PyeongChang Winter Olympics,” the Blue House quoted Moon as having said during the call.
The Russia Today report added that Putin assesses Kim’s overtures to South Korea as an effort to ease tensions on the peninsula.
While Russia has publicly denounced North Korea for its continued development of its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, it is at odds with Washington regarding the best solution to the issue.
Russia and China both advocate for a freeze-for-freeze plan that would see North Korea halt its testing of ballistic missiles and nuclear devices in return for The U.S.’ freezing of joint military exercises.
President Donald Trump also said in December that Russia was not helping U.S. efforts to pressure the North Korean regime amid a year of repeat weapons testing. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also called on Russia to do more to pressure Pyongyang during a meeting of the UNSC on December 15.
In August, a civil forfeiture complaint filed by the U.S. Justice Department highlighted how North Korea used front companies in Singapore to launder money and purchase oil products from Russia.
The U.S. intelligence community also shared details of North Korean maritime vessels sanctions evading techniques in order to continue the prohibited trade in DPRK coal, some of which were being deployed in Russian territory.
Despite this, Russia maintains it is fully implementing UNSC sanctions against the DPRK.
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Featured Image: blue putin by Jedimentat44 on 2012-07-12 11:08:25