North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sent a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin and said Moscow would "smash all challenges," state media reported Tuesday. File Photo by KCNA/UPI | License Photo
SEOUL, May 9 (UPI) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sent a congratulatory message to Russian President Vladimir Putin for Moscow's Victory Day holiday and said that Russia would prevail over "hostile forces," state-run Korean Central News Agency reported Tuesday.
Kim "expressed belief that the strong and righteous Russian people would smash all challenges and threats by hostile forces," KCNA said, in an apparent show of support for Russia's war with Ukraine.
Victory Day commemorates the Soviet Union's role in defeating Nazi Germany in World War II, with a major military parade held each year in Moscow.
Kim added that Russia has undertaken a "sacred struggle to realize international justice and defend global peace against the high-handed and arbitrary practices of the imperialists."
While Russia has been increasingly isolated by the international community over its invasion of Ukraine, Pyongyang has strengthened its ties with Moscow. The United States has accused North Korea of supplying weapons to the Russian military and the private mercenary Wagner Group, allegations the North denies.
In March, the White House said that Russia was actively seeking arms from North Korea in exchange for food supplies and sanctioned a Slovakian arms dealer working to facilitate a trade.
North Korea has been suffering a chronic food crisis, with reports of shortfalls in crop production and distribution problems exacerbated by border closures meant to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. A report by monitoring website 38 North earlier this year concluded that North Korea is undergoing the worst period of food insecurity it has faced since a mass famine devastated the country almost 30 years ago.
Russia, meanwhile, has joined with China in shutting down U.S.-led efforts on the U.N. Security Council to condemn North Korea over a spate of intercontinental ballistic missile tests, which include the launch of its first-ever solid-fuel ICBM last month.
Moscow and Beijing have blamed U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises for heightening tensions on the Korean Peninsula and provoking Pyongyang's response. Washington and its allies, however, say that the council's inability to apply pressure and additional sanctions emboldens North Korea and allows it to continue developing its weapons program.