Putin gave Kim Jong Un a car as a sign of “special personal relations”, according to North Korean state media

(CNN) — Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a car to his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong Un, North Korean state media said Tuesday, another sign of strengthening ties between the two countries that has raised concerns in the United States .

The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that the Russian-made car was delivered by a Russian delegation this Sunday for Kim’s personal use.

According to KCNA, Kim’s sister and senior Pyongyang official Kim Yo Jong thanked Putin on her brother’s behalf and said: “This gift serves as a clear demonstration of the special personal relations between the top leaders of (North Korea) and Russia.” Works in.”

US intelligence officials are concerned about the long-term implications of a new level of strategic partnership between North Korea and Russia, multiple officials familiar with the latest intelligence told CNN.

kim putin

Meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Vostochny Cosmodrome on September 13, 2023.

Russia has repeatedly fired short-range ballistic missiles supplied by North Korea at Ukrainian targets in recent weeks. Meanwhile, U.S. officials fear North Korea could use closer ties with Russia to undermine China’s influence, potentially putting a major brake on Pyongyang’s nuclear testing program.

In January, senior North Korean and Russian diplomats met in Moscow ahead of Putin’s upcoming visit to Pyongyang, his first in more than 20 years, according to North Korean state media. And Kim visited Russia in September for a summit with Putin, where he supported the Kremlin’s war against Ukraine and said, “I will always be on Russia’s side.”

Putin’s gift potentially violates United Nations sanctions imposed on North Korea over its nuclear weapons program, although a ban on the sale of luxury goods in the country has allowed Kim to appear in a variety of high-end vehicles over the years. Didn’t stop from.

The North Korean leader is often seen driving in an armored Mercedes-Maybach Pullman Guard limousine, which is worth more than $1 million.

In 2018, he arrived in a black Rolls-Royce to a meeting with US officials. Earlier that year, two Mercedes-Maybach S600 Guard armored vehicles were sent to North Korea from the Netherlands, presumably for Kim’s use, according to the Washington-based Center for Advanced Defense Studies.

The center also reported that Pyongyang imported more than 800 luxury vehicles in the period from 2015 to 2017 alone, the majority of which were from Russian companies.

During Kim’s visit to Russia last September, Putin showed the North Korean leader his limousine made by Russian luxury carmaker Aurus.

Former US President Donald Trump also showed Kim the presidential Cadillac limousine nicknamed “The Beast” during their talks in Singapore in 2018.

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