Kim Jong Un takes ride in luxury Russian limo given to him by Putin

State media says car ride is ‘clear proof’ of the close and deepening relationship between the two countries.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un took his first ride in the luxury car that was given to him as a gift by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Pyongyang and Moscow have forged closer ties since Kim met Putin in Russia last September, their first summit in four years.

Putin also invited Kim to try out his high-end Aurus Senat limousine, and the vehicle arrived in Pyongyang in February.

On Friday, Kim used the car for the first time, according to his sister and prominent government official Kim Yo Jong.

The journey was “clear proof of the DPRK-Russia friendship, which is developing in a comprehensive way on a new high stage”, Kim Yo Jong was reported as saying by state-run KCNA, using the acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

According to Russian state media, Aurus is Russia’s first luxury car brand and has been used in motorcades of top officials since Putin first used an Aurus limousine during his inauguration ceremony in 2018.

Kim Jong Un, 40, has a collection of foreign-made luxury cars believed to have been smuggled into the country. During his Russia visit, he travelled between meeting sites in a Maybach limousine that he brought with him on his special train. Other limousines Kim has reportedly used include a Mercedes-Maybach S600 Pullman Guard and a Maybach S62.

A 2021 United Nations report highlighted an attempted shipment of luxury vehicles worth more than $1m allegedly from the United Arab Emirates to Ningbo, China, for onward delivery to North Korea.

North Korea and Russia have become increasingly close over the past year as North Korea advances its weapons and nuclear programmes and Moscow continues its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The United States and South Korea have raised concerns that North Korea is supplying Russia with weapons to use in its war in Ukraine in return for technological expertise.

Kim Jong Un with his daughter Kim Ju Ae. They are in a shelter with a number of military officials behind them. Jue Ae is looking through binoculars. Kim is smiling as he stands alongside his daughter.
Kim also observed paratrooper drills with his daughter Kim Ju Ae [KCNA via KNS and AFP]

Russia and China, North Korea’s oldest ally, have repeatedly blocked attempts to impose new UN sanctions on North Korea over its banned ballistic missile tests.

South Korea’s  Ministry of Unification said it had assessed that the gift of the Aurus was also a violation of UN sanctions.

“We condemn North Korea for its brazen attitude of publicly disclosing violations of the UN sanctions,” a ministry official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Russia should also be aware of its responsibility as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and stop an act that undermines international norms,” the official added.

State media said that Kim also monitored paratroop drills on Friday that were aimed at showing his soldiers’ ability to occupy an “enemy region at a stroke”.

He was accompanied by his daughter.



Al Jazeera and news agencies

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