Putin and Kim sign deal in pomp-filled ceremony

Putin meets Kim Jong-un in North Korea

Source: X/Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have taken turns to drive each other around in a Russian-built Aurus limousine after the Kremlin said Putin had gifted one of the luxury vehicles to Kim.

In a carefully staged public relations opportunity held amid tight security, the two leaders used the moment to show how close their working relationship has become during a pomp-filled visit to Pyongyang by Putin, his first in 24 years.

Their jaunt came after the two leaders had signed a deal that included a mutual defence pledge, one of Russia’s most significant moves in Asia for years that Kim said amounted to an “alliance”.

They signed a “comprehensive strategic partnership” pact, which Putin said included a mutual defence clause in the case of aggression against either country.

“The comprehensive partnership agreement signed today provides, among other things, for mutual assistance in the event of aggression against one of the parties to this agreement,” Putin said.

Kim praised Russia for making what he cast as an enormously significant strategic move to support North Korea, which was founded in 1948 with the Soviet Union’s backing.

Depending on the exact wording of the pact, which was not released, it could be a dramatic shift in the strategic balance in north-east Asia by placing Russia’s heft behind North Korea – which faces South Korea, backed by the US, across the heavily fortified demilitarised zone.

Video released by Russian state TV showed Putin jumping behind the wheel of the black armoured Aurus, which is his official presidential car back in Russia, with Kim getting in the passenger seat.

The car is then shown driving on a road that weaves through a carefully manicured park area before coming to a halt.

A Korean man in a suit wearing white gloves is seen opening the door for Kim before rushing round to hold Putin’s door.

Putin and Kim are then shown walking side by side and chatting on a path in a wooded area with two men, presumably translators, walking behind them.

Kim, who is believed to be a keen car enthusiast, is then shown driving Putin back.

One of Putin’s aides said earlier on Wednesday that the Russian leader had presented Kim with a Russian-built Aurus limousine as a gift.

Putin gave Kim a first Aurus limousine in February this year, both countries said at the time, meaning he now has at least two of the vehicles.

The Aurus Senat, retro-styled after the Soviet-era ZIL limousine, is the official Russian presidential car. Putin rode in one to his most recent Kremlin inauguration ceremony in May.

When Kim visited eastern Russia in September last year, Putin showed him one of the vehicles.

Kim sat beside Putin in the car and appeared to enjoy it.

Kim has a large collection of foreign vehicles that have probably been smuggled in, as United Nations Security Council resolutions ban the export of luxury goods to North Korea.

He has been spotted in a Maybach limousine, several Mercedes, a Rolls-Royce Phantom and a Lexus sports utility vehicle.

Aurus Motors began making its cars in Russia’s Tatarstan region, about 1000 kilometres from Moscow, in 2021

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