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(LEAD) North Korean leader expresses ‘strong support’ in message to Putin on Victory Day

(ATTENTION: UPDATED with more details in the last 3 paragraphs)

SEOUL, May 9 (Yonhap) — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sent a congratulatory message to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Victory Day, expressing his “strong support and solidarity” with Moscow , official media reported this Thursday.

Kim extended his “warm congratulations and comradely greetings” to Putin in the message celebrating the 79th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). ).

Kim touted Putin as leading efforts to defend Russia’s sovereignty against “vicious challenges and threats from hostile forces,” apparently pointing to Moscow’s war with Ukraine.

“I express my firm support and solidarity with the sacred cause of Russia, hoping that you and the courageous Russian army and people will achieve a new victory in the struggle to defeat the hegemonic policies of the imperialists,” Kim said, quoted by KCNA.

This archival image, captured from footage from North Korea's state-run Korean Central Television on September 14, 2023, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (left) meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.  (For use only in the Republic of Korea. No redistribution) (Yonhap)

This archival image, captured from footage from North Korea’s state-run Korean Central Television on September 14, 2023, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (left) meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. (For use only in the Republic of Korea. No redistribution) (Yonhap)

Earlier this week, the North Korean leader sent a congratulatory message to Putin on officially beginning his fifth term as Moscow’s leader. Putin began his fifth term on Tuesday, extending his 24-year term by six years after a landslide victory in March elections.

North Korea and Russia deepened military cooperation and strengthened bilateral relations following the summit between Kim and Putin in September last year.

Seoul’s Unification Ministry said Kim sent a congratulatory message to Putin on Victory Day for the third consecutive year since Russia’s war with Ukraine in 2022. Previously, the North did not made only on the occasion of Russia’s birthdays whose final digits ended in five or zero.

“North Korea seems to be trying to show its close ties with Russia and create the atmosphere (to prepare) for Putin’s trip to North Korea,” a ministry official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

The Kremlin earlier said Putin had accepted Kim’s invitation to visit North Korea during the summit held at Russia’s Vostochny spaceport.

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