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MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit North Korea on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Kremlin said, an extremely rare trip that underscores Moscow’s burgeoning partnership with the reclusive nuclear-armed state.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un extended an invite to Putin during a visit to Russia’s Far East last September. Putin has not visited Pyongyang since July 2000.

“At the invitation of the Chairman of State Affairs of the DPRK, Kim Jong Un, Vladimir Putin will pay a friendly state visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on June 18-19,” the Kremlin said.

After North Korea, Putin will visit Vietnam on June 19-20, the Kremlin said.

North Korea’s Kim boasts of ‘invincible’ ties with Russia amid talks of Putin visit

Russia has gone out of its way to publicise the renaissance of its relationship with North Korea since the start of the war in Ukraine, which has triggered the biggest crisis for more than 60 years in Moscow’s relationship with the West.

For Putin, who says Russia is locked in an existential battle with the West over Ukraine, courting Kim allows him to needle Washington and its Asian allies while securing a deep supply of artillery for the Ukraine war.

The United States and its allies say North Korea has supplied weapons to Russia to help it fight in Ukraine, though North Korea has

repeatedly denied the claims as a fiction invented by Western propagandists.

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