Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly committed to expanding the country’s “comprehensive and constructive bilateral relations” with North Korea.
Putin made the remarks in a letter addressed to North Korea’s ruler Kim Jong-un on the occasion of the anniversary of the North’s liberation from Japanese rule, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Monday.
Putin said closer ties would be in both countries' interests, and would help strengthen the security and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the Northeastern Asian region as a whole, the agency added.
Kim also sent a letter to Putin, saying Russian-North Korean friendship had been forged in World War II with victory over Japan.
The "strategic and tactical cooperation, support, and solidarity" between the two countries has since reached a new level is their common efforts to frustrate threats and provocations from hostile military forces, Kim said.
The letter did not specify what hostile forces Kim was referring to, but Pyongyang generally uses the term to describe the United States and its allies.
Last month, North Korea officially recognized Donetsk (DPR) and Luhansk People's Republics (LPR), Ukraine’s two eastern breakaway regions, nearly five months after Russia began a special military operation in the former Soviet republic. Ukraine retaliated by severing its relations with the North.
Pyongyang and Moscow’s expression of mutual interest in enhancement of their ties came a day after the former criticized UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for his calling for the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the North during a visit to Seoul.
Guterres, who was in South Korea on a two-day visit, expressed his "clear commitment" to North Korea's denuclearization, calling it a "fundamental objective to bring peace, security, and stability to the whole region."
"We advise Secretary-General Guterres to be careful in making such dangerous words and deeds as pouring gasoline on flames," said Kim Son Gyong, the North's vice foreign minister.
"I cannot but express deep regret over the said remarks of the UN secretary-general that grossly lack impartiality and fairness," he said in a statement carried by the KCNA.
Guterres’ remarks echoed those made by the United States, which incessantly harps on about the North’s denuclearization, while warning that Pyongyang was preparing itself for its seventh nuclear test. North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test in September 2017.
US President Joe Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump took unprecedented steps towards apparently fraternizing the North by initiating several rounds of dialog with it, and even walking a number of steps into the country alongside Kim.
Washington, however, blew what Pyongyang called a “golden opportunity” at mending the situation by insisting too much on the issue of denuclearization and refusing to lift sanctions. That prompted Pyongyang to dismiss Trump's overture as disingenuous and go back to its fiery discourse towards Washington.