Putin does Pyongyang. Lavish pomp but little substance to Kremlin chief’s 24-hour state visit to North Korea — Novaya Gazeta Europe
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Putin does Pyongyang

Lavish pomp but little substance to Kremlin chief’s 24-hour state visit to North Korea

Putin does Pyongyang

Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin arrive on Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square for an offficial welcoming ceremony, 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE / GAVRIIL GRIGOROV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL

The arrival of Vladimir Putin’s plane at Pyongyang’s Sunan Airport in the early hours of Wednesday marked an important diplomatic boost for Kim Jong Un’s terminally isolated dictatorship, something underscored by Kim’s decision to greet Putin in person upon his arrival, despite it being 3am local time.

For Putin, visiting North Korea has never been a priority, despite the decades of close ties Moscow and Pyongyang have enjoyed, and it’s highly unlikely he would have do so at all, were Russia not so internationally isolated and in dire need of North Korean munitions.

As it is, despite his last visit to the Hermit Kingdom being 24 years ago, Putin will be in North Korea for less than 24 hours, having arrived later than planned from the city of Yakutsk in Russia’s Far East. However, North Korea’s legendary penchant for ceremony and pageantry has been duly deployed despite the short time frame for the state visit, with portraits of Putin appearing all over Pyongyang, and a welcome ceremony featuring thousands of people held on the capital’s Kim Il Sung Square.

Kim Jong Un waits on the red carpet to greet Vladimir Putin upon his arrival in Pyongyang, 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE / GAVRIIL GRIGOROV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL

Kim Jong Un waits on the red carpet to greet Vladimir Putin upon his arrival in Pyongyang, 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE / GAVRIIL GRIGOROV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un greets Putin upon his arrival at Pyongyang Airport, 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE / KCNA

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un greets Putin upon his arrival at Pyongyang Airport, 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE / KCNA 

Putin and Kim inspect a ceremonial guard following Putin’s arrival at Pyongyang Airport, 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE / KCNA

Putin and Kim inspect a ceremonial guard following Putin’s arrival at Pyongyang Airport, 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE / KCNA

Putin and Kim travel into Pyongyang from the airport in the early hours of 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE / GAVRIIL GRIGOROV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL

Putin and Kim travel into Pyongyang from the airport in the early hours of 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE / GAVRIIL GRIGOROV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL

A heavily guarded motorcade carries Putin and Kim through Pyongyang on 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE / GAVRIIL GRIGOROV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL

A heavily guarded motorcade carries Putin and Kim through Pyongyang on 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE / GAVRIIL GRIGOROV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL 

A motorcade carrying Putin and Kim passes through Pyongyang’s Arch of Triumph on 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE / GAVRIIL GRIGOROV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL

A motorcade carrying Putin and Kim passes through Pyongyang’s Arch of Triumph on 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE / GAVRIIL GRIGOROV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL 

Crowds line the streets waving Russian and North Korean flags as Putin and Kim’s motorcade passes through Pyongyang. Photo: EPA-EFE / GAVRIIL GRIGOROV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL

Crowds line the streets waving Russian and North Korean flags as Putin and Kim’s motorcade passes through Pyongyang. Photo: EPA-EFE / GAVRIIL GRIGOROV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL 

Crowds on Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square greeting Putin’s arrival in Pyongyang, North Korea, 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE / VLADIMIR SMIRNOV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL

Crowds on Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square greeting Putin’s arrival in Pyongyang, North Korea, 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE / VLADIMIR SMIRNOV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL

Putin and Kim at the welcome ceremony in Pyongyang, 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE/GAVRIIL GRIGOROV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL

Putin and Kim at the welcome ceremony in Pyongyang, 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE/GAVRIIL GRIGOROV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL 

Putin and Kim at the welcome ceremony in Pyongyang, 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE /GAVRIIL GRIGOROV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL

Putin and Kim at the welcome ceremony in Pyongyang, 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE /GAVRIIL GRIGOROV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL 

Putin shakes hands with senior North Korean officials at the welcome ceremony in Pyongyang, 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE/VLADIMIR SMIRNOV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL

Putin shakes hands with senior North Korean officials at the welcome ceremony in Pyongyang, 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE/VLADIMIR SMIRNOV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL

Thousands of North Koreans at a welcome ceremony for Putin in Pyongyang, North Korea, 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE / VLADIMIR SMIRNOV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL

Thousands of North Koreans at a welcome ceremony for Putin in Pyongyang, North Korea, 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE / VLADIMIR SMIRNOV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL

Putin and Kim at the welcome ceremony in Pyongyang, 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE/VLADIMIR SMIRNOV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL

Putin and Kim at the welcome ceremony in Pyongyang, 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE/VLADIMIR SMIRNOV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL

Putin and Kim at the welcome ceremony in Pyongyang, 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE/VLADIMIR SMIRNOV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL

Putin and Kim at the welcome ceremony in Pyongyang, 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE/VLADIMIR SMIRNOV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL 

Putin and Kim during talks in Pyongyang, North Korea, 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE/KRISTINA KORMILITSYNA/SPUTNIK/KREMLIN POOL

Putin and Kim during talks in Pyongyang, North Korea, 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE/KRISTINA KORMILITSYNA/SPUTNIK/KREMLIN POOL


Putin during the official welcome ceremony in Pyongyang, 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE/ VLADIMIR SMIRNOV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN

Putin during the official welcome ceremony in Pyongyang, 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE/ VLADIMIR SMIRNOV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN 

Putin and Kim hold talks at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang, North Korea, 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE/GAVRIIL GRIGOROV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL

Putin and Kim hold talks at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang, North Korea, 19 June 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE/GAVRIIL GRIGOROV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL

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