Feb. 3 (UPI) -- North Korea prioritized Russia in a statement issued on Friday that listed the heads of state who were reportedly presented with holiday cards from Kim Jong Un.
Pyongyang's state-controlled news agency KCNA reported on Friday Kim sent Lunar New Year greeting cards to national leaders. At the top of the list was Russia, followed by China, North Korea's most important economic partner.
"Around the time of the New Year [Kim Jong Un] sent greeting cards and congratulatory messages," KCNA stated, before listing in order the leaders of Russia, China and the general secretary of the Central Committee of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party.
North Korea has been placing Russia first on similar messages, ahead of China, for the last three years, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.
The list did not mention the names of each leader and continues a defining trend of the Kim Jong Un regime.
Under his father's rule, North Korea messages would list China first, sometimes followed by Cuba then Russia, according to Yonhap.
The United Nations secretary general was omitted from the list for the second year in a row.
The message was identical to a KCNA announcement issued on Dec. 31 that stated Kim had sent greeting cards to the leaders of Russia, China and the party politician in Laos.
Russia and North Korea recently began to establish new channels of cooperation.
The two countries are expanding railroad cooperation while extending terms of study abroad for North Korean students, according to a Russian news agency.