Putin to visit North Korea and Vietnam in coming weeks as Moscow scrambles for allies

Vladimir Putin is to travel to North Korea and Vietnam on state visits later this month, Russian business daily Vedomosti reported on Monday, citing diplomatic sources.

Putin’s state visit to North Korea is being “actively prepared”, Russia’s ambassador to Pyongyang, Alexander Matsegora, told Vedomosti. After North Korea, Putin is expected to travel to Vietnam following an invitation from the general secretary of the country’s ruling Communist Party Nguyen Phu Trong in March, Vedomosti said.

Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov did not confirm nor deny Putin’s plans, saying only that announcements would be made about any such visits “when the time comes”.

The “restoration of trade and economic ties” between Russia and North Korea would likely be the focus of Putin’s visit to the pariah state, North Korea expert Alexander Zhebin told Vedomosti, including a potential increase in North Korean migrant labourers coming to Russia and the possible development of North Korea as a tourist destination for Russians.

Russia has strengthened ties with Pyongyang since launching its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, with reports of illegally supplied North Korean missiles being used by the Russian military to attack its western neighbour.

Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin during a state visit by Kim to Vladivostok, Russia, 2019. Photo: EPA-EFE/KCNA

Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin during a state visit by Kim to Vladivostok, Russia, 2019. Photo: EPA-EFE/KCNA

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un most recently visited Russia’s Far East in September, meeting with Putin at Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Amur region and viewing military facilities in Vladivostok with then-Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu. It was during that visit that Kim extended an invitation to Putin to visit North Korea on a “convenient” future occasion.

While Putin’s only previous state visit to North Korea came during his first term in office in 2000, when he met with the country’s then-leader Kim Jong Il, several high-ranking Kremlin officials have visited the country in recent months.

Shoigu attended celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the Korean War armistice in Pyongyang in July, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pledged Russia’s “complete support and solidarity” for Kim during a visit in October.

Putin’s foreign visits have become increasingly few and far between since 2022, when the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for him for war crimes, meaning he faces arrest if he were to visit any of the ICC’s 124 member states. Nevertheless, since his inauguration for a fifth term in office in May, Putin has visited China, Belarus and Uzbekistan.

Editor in chief — Kirill Martynov. Terms of use. Privacy policy.