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Russia's defense chief, Chinese officials in N Korea to mark Victory Day, expand ties

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (R) with his North Korean counterpart Kang Sun Nam on July 26, 2023 in Pyongyang, North Korea. (Photo by Russian Ministry of Defense)

Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has arrived in North Korea leading a military delegation, joining a high level Chinese delegation to attend the country's Victory Day events marking the end of the Korean War and hold talks on expanding defense ties.

“This visit will contribute to strengthening Russian-North Korean military ties and will be an important stage in the development of co-operation between the two countries,” the Russian defense ministry declared on Tuesday in a post on its official Telegram channel.

The Russian delegation arrived in Pyongyang on Tuesday evening, according to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), and is joining the Chinese delegation headed by Communist Party Politburo member Li Hongzhong.

A red banner with a sign saying, “Welcome, Comrade Defense Minister of the Russian Federation Sergei Shoigu!” in Korean and Russian stood behind a line of saluting soldiers.

The anniversary events come at a time of heightened tensions in the region amid increasing US-led war games with South Korean and Japanese troops in the region and North Korea’s retaliatory weapons tests.

The anniversary events are expected to include a major military parade in North Korea's capital, Pyongyang.

North Korea has backed Russia over the war in Ukraine, insisting that the “hegemonic policy” of the US-led NATO military alliance of Western governments forced Moscow to take military action to protect its national security interests.

The US, in turn, has accused Pyongyang of providing arms to Russia to help combat the West-supplied Ukrainian forces. North Korea and Russia have, however, dismissed US claims as part of its usual publicity campaign against unfriendly countries.

Russia and China, meanwhile, have stood firm against US-led efforts at the United Nations Security Council to impose more sanctions against North Korea over its growing missile test in response to increasing US military presence and war games in the Korean Peninsula.

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