Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin met in Russia Wednesday, and while their friend Donald Trump couldn’t be there in person, he was there in spirit.
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un rarely ventures outside of his country’s borders, which makes any foreign trip of his noteworthy. But the fact that he traveled to Russia to meet with President/Dictator Vladimir Putin there is even more significant.
Granted, now that Donald Trump is no longer in office, Kim doesn’t have a lot of friends left in the international community. However, the allies North Korea does have, namely China and Russia, are very powerful.
What all three of them have in common, apart from their communist roots, is that they view the United States as their main adversary: China because it wants to take over the world, Russia because it still clings to its Cold War mindset, and North Korea because the US protects South Korea.
Conversely, their respective ambitions are a thorn in the side of the US. China because of its threat to the US’s status as the world’s greatest power, Russia because of its territorial ambitions (and attempts to undermine Western countries whenever possible), and North Korea because it has nuclear weapons.
While it is impossible to isolate China, which builds everything for everybody, the US and its allies have embarked on a quest to isolate both North Korea and Russia as much as possible, especially after the latter invaded Ukraine last year.
(Note: When we say “the US” in the context of this article, we refer to all administrations apart from Trump’s, who has professed an affection for Putin and Kim that goes beyond his general admiration for authoritarian rulers. In fact, when he saw the two men get together Wednesday morning, he probably felt a bit of jealousy that he couldn’t be there with them).
Therefore, it is not surprising that the leaders of the three countries are seeking each other out. Typically, Kim is the one who comes to these meetings with hat in hand. Because nuclear weapons are not edible, his people are usually starving… at least those who don’t hold high-ranking offices.
This time, it’s a bit different because he actually has something Moscow wants: weapons.
With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine not going as well as Putin had hoped and anticipated, the conflict between the two countries is now also a war of attrition. However, while Ukraine keeps getting modern weaponry for free from any number of allies, Russia has to rely on its own stocks or buy weapons from a much smaller number of countries — usually the pariahs of the international community like Iran or, in this case, North Korea.
And that explains why Putin and Kim greeted each other so warmly when they got together Wednesday morning and had so many nice things to say.
“Russia is now rising to the sacred struggle to defend its state sovereignty and protect its security,” Kim told Putin. “We have always supported and stand by all decisions of President Putin and the Russian government.”
For his part, Putin said the meeting was held at Russia’s spaceport because he wants to supply North Korea with technology to build satellites.
None of this is welcome news for the US, which is the point, of course.
It seems more than likely that both Kim and Putin will once again be rooting for Trump in the 2024 election (in the Russian’s case, “rooting” means “actively interfering on behalf of”). And even though the former president couldn’t be there in person this time, he was there in spirit.
Ahead of the meeting, Putin weighed in on Trump’s many indictments for various crimes, most of them related to attempting to subvert democracy, which is something the Russian president is very familiar with.
He referred to the charges as an example of “persecution of one’s political rival for political motives,” which is something he is also intimately familiar with (when he doesn’t have those rivals killed).
Trump got the message and knows that he can count on his authoritarian allies abroad who will once again do all they can to get him elected.
“President Vladimir Putin of Russia is using Crooked Joe Biden’s illegal Banana Republic style treatment of his Political Opponent, who is beating him badly in the Polls, to condemn America and all of the good things it once stood for,” Trump wrote on his social media site. “The whole World is watching as the USA is being torn apart by dreams of Election Interference!”
Indeed, it is. The Western world is horrified by what Trump tried to do after the 2020 election and the prospect of him returning to power.
The authoritarian world, however, is taking notes.