Ukraine: The Latest – When Kim met Putin

Today on Ukraine: The Latest, we bring you the latest updates from Ukraine and discuss the meeting between Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un.

The North Korea leader vowed support for Russia’s “just fight” in Ukraine after a rare summit with Vladimir Putin at which the pair discussed military matters. Assistant Comment Editor Francis Dearnley gives his reaction:

Yesterday it was Putin who was distorting history for his own ends; today it was Kim Jong-Un. We understand he told the Russian president: “The Soviet Union played a very big role in the liberation of our country, as well as in the independence of our state, and our friendship has deep roots. Now Russia has risen to the sacred fight to protect its sovereignty and security against the hegemonic forces that oppose Russia. And now we want to further develop the relationship. We will always support the decisions of President Putin and the Russian leadership… I also hope that we will always be together in the fight against imperialism and for the construction of a sovereign state. We are confident that the Russian army and people will certainly win a great victory in the sacred struggle to punish the gathering of evil that claims hegemony and nourishes expansionist illusions.”

Expansionism… imperialism… all activities the West is accused of, yet North Korea, under the leadership of the Kim dynasty, was born, and is still defined today, by an expansionist war. The Korean War (1950-1953) began when North Korean forces, backed by the Soviet Union and China, invaded South Korea in an attempt to unify the peninsula under communist rule, against the will of the majority of the South Koreans. Hence why Western forces were deployed in the South to stop their advance. The Kim dynasty maintains power by claiming they not only heroically held back the Western forces, when really it was the Chinese army that made the difference, but that they are effectively still doing so. It is the closest embodiment of the Orwellian state described in 1984, where the leadership deploys the idea of permanent war to keep people in check. 

Foreign correspondent James Kilner adds his thoughts on the meeting:

The war in Ukraine has become so attritional that a lot of it is about who can make the most artillery shells. We know that Russia’s really increased its production levels of artillery shells but it’s also looking for new avenues and new supplies. This is really what the trip by Kim’s all about.

We know that Russian Defence Minister Shoigu was in North Korea in July, however there hasn’t actually been any official announcement of a deal being made. We’ve seen lots of videos of Russian officials greeting Kim, and it’s quite an awkward meeting because it’s all done through translators, so all in all it’s quite a long-winded affair and so far there’s mainly been lots of platitudes. 

Francis continues:

There’s a morbid fascination with North Korea in the Westm which has a tendency to ridicule its Soviet-era eccentricities, rather like looking at an animal trapped in a cage. 

Yet this tendency tends to mask the horror: this is a monstrous regime, and any country that supports it so publicly ought to be an international pariah according to the standards of international law. Kim Jong-un talked of the Russian army fighting the forces of “evil”, but the North Korean people endure unimaginable suffering, deprived of even the most basic human rights.

Citizens are forced into a twisted reality, stripped of their autonomy and subjected to a relentless cult of personality. We hear horrifying accounts of forced labour camps, arbitrary executions, and mass starvation. Meanwhile, the world watches on as the regime pursues nuclear ambitions, further imperilling global security.

The Ukraine: The Latest team are currently reporting from the US.

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War in Ukraine is reshaping our world. Every weekday The Telegraph’s top journalists analyse the invasion from all angles – military, humanitarian, political, economic, historical – and tell you what you need to know to stay updated.

With over 40 million downloads, our Ukraine: The Latest podcast is your go-to source for all the latest analysis, live reaction and correspondents reporting on the ground. We have been broadcasting ever since the full-scale invasion began.

Ukraine: The Latest’s regular contributors are:

David Knowles

David is Head of Audio Development at The Telegraph, where he has worked for nearly three years. He has reported from across Ukraine during the full-scale invasion.

Dominic Nicholls

Dom is Associate Editor (Defence) at The Telegraph, having joined in 2018. He previously served for 23 years in the British Army, in tank and helicopter units. He had operational deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland.

Francis Dearnley

Francis is assistant comment editor at The Telegraph. Prior to working as a journalist, he was chief of staff to the Chair of the Prime Minister’s Policy Board at the Houses of Parliament in London. He studied History at Cambridge University and on the podcast explores how the past shines a light on the latest diplomatic, political, and strategic developments.

They are also regularly joined by The Telegraph’s foreign correspondents around the world, including Joe Barnes (Brussels), Sophia Yan (China), Nataliya Vasilyeva (Russia), Roland Oliphant (Senior Reporter) and Colin Freeman (Reporter). In London, Venetia Rainey (Weekend Foreign Editor), Katie O’Neill (Assistant Foreign Editor), and Verity Bowman (News Reporter) also frequently appear to offer updates.

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