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At summit with Putin, Kim Jong Un pledges to 'always be standing with Russia'

Russian President Vladimir Putin (2nd-L) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) met at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in eastern Russia for a summit on Wednesday, with discussions expected to include a weapons deal. Kremlin Pool Photo by Mikhail Metzel/Sputnik/EPA-EFE
Russian President Vladimir Putin (2nd-L) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) met at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in eastern Russia for a summit on Wednesday, with discussions expected to include a weapons deal. Kremlin Pool Photo by Mikhail Metzel/Sputnik/EPA-EFE

SEOUL, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- North Korea launched a pair of short-range ballistic missiles into the sea, the South Korean military reported Wednesday, as Kim Jong Un met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Siberia, where Kim pledged to always stand with Russia.

At the Kim-Putin summit, the North Korean leader appeared to support Russia's invasion of Ukraine by saying, "The Russian military and its people will inherit the shining tradition of victory."

Kim added, "I will always be standing with Russia."

Putin, meanwhile, seemed willing to help North Korea develop space and satellite technology possibly in return for weapons and ammunition assistance from Pyongyang.

"Meeting at Russia's eastern spaceport is particularly provocative because it suggests that Putin may offer sanctions-violating satellite launch technology in exchange for North Korean munitions that Moscow would employ in its illegal war in Ukraine," Leif-Eric Easley, professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, told CNN.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (R), arrived by train at the Russian border town of Khasan on Tuesday ahead of his meeting with Putin. Photo by Governor of Primorsky Krai Press Office/ UPI
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (R), arrived by train at the Russian border town of Khasan on Tuesday ahead of his meeting with Putin. Photo by Governor of Primorsky Krai Press Office/ UPI

Putin said there were military cooperation possibilities while Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the summit talks as "important and substantive."

Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected the missile launches from an area around Pyongyang's Sunan International Airport between 11:43 a.m. and 11:53 a.m.

Kim Jong Un (L) is expected to provide munitions to Putin for Russia's war in the Ukraine, while North Korea may receive advanced technology for missiles and satellites. Photo by Governor of Primorsky Krai Press Office/ UPI
Kim Jong Un (L) is expected to provide munitions to Putin for Russia's war in the Ukraine, while North Korea may receive advanced technology for missiles and satellites. Photo by Governor of Primorsky Krai Press Office/ UPI

Each missile flew around 400 miles before landing in the sea between Korea and Japan, the JCS said in a text message to reporters.

"We strongly condemn North Korea's continuing ballistic missile launches as a serious act of provocation that harms the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula as well as the international community," the JCS said.

The Kim-Putin summit was held hours after North Korea fired a pair of short-range ballistic missiles in the sea Wednesday, according to Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff. File photo by Thomas Maresca/UPI
The Kim-Putin summit was held hours after North Korea fired a pair of short-range ballistic missiles in the sea Wednesday, according to Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff. File photo by Thomas Maresca/UPI

The North's latest weapons test comes after leader Kim Jong Un's arrival in Russia's far east on Tuesday for his first international trip since 2019.

Putin and Kim met Wednesday at Vostochny Cosmodrome, a space launch facility in the remote eastern forests of Siberia, Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti reported. They took a brief tour of the facility, located roughly 900 miles northwest from the port city of Vladivostok, before sitting down for a summit in the afternoon.

"We, of course, need to talk about issues of economic interaction, about humanitarian issues, about the situation in the region," Putin said at the start of the meeting, according to RIA Novosti.

The two leaders have been widely expected to discuss an arms deal, which the White House said last week was "actively advancing."

According to a New York Times report, Putin is seeking artillery shells and anti-tank missiles for his war in Ukraine, while Kim wants advanced technology for satellites and nuclear submarines -- as well as food aid for his impoverished country.

Earlier on Wednesday, North Korean state-run media reported on Kim's arrival by armored train at the Russian border town of Khasan.

Kim said that his visit was a "clear manifestation ... of prioritizing the strategic importance of the DPRK-Russia relations," according to Korean Central News Agency.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the official name of North Korea.

Moscow and Pyongyang have drawn closer amid a growing geopolitical divide sparked by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. In July, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Pyongyang, where he toured a weapons expo and viewed a military parade, sparking concern about a pending arms sale.

Russia, along with China, has repeatedly blocked U.S.-led efforts at the United Nations Security Council to take action against North Korea over a flurry of weapons tests, including its launch of a Hwasong-18 intercontinental ballistic missile in July.