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Bizarre second Putin and Kim bicker over who ought to enter limousine

Despots Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un have been spotted bickering over who would enter a car first during the Russian leader’s first visit to North Korea in 24 years. 

Vladimir Putin was met with a reception fit for a king upon his arrival in North Korea’s capital city, after landing at Pyongyang Airport. 

The Russian autocrat was greeted at the airport with a warm handshake and a hug by the pariah state’s dynastic dictator Kim Jong Un

But footage captured an awkward exchange between the two leaders, who each insisted the other get in the car first. 

For what seemed like an eternity, both Putin and Un gestured to the other to get into the awaiting car. 

Eventually, Putin relented first, and was seen taking his jacket before getting into the limousine. 

Vladimir Putin was met with a reception fit for a king upon his arrival in North Korea's capital city, after landing at Pyongyang Airport

Vladimir Putin was met with a reception fit for a king upon his arrival in North Korea’s capital city, after landing at Pyongyang Airport 

The Russian autocrat was greeted at the airport with a warm handshake and a hug by the pariah state's dynastic dictator Kim Jong Un

The Russian autocrat was greeted at the airport with a warm handshake and a hug by the pariah state’s dynastic dictator Kim Jong Un

But footage captured an awkward exchange between the two leaders, who each insisted the other get in the car first

But footage captured an awkward exchange between the two leaders, who each insisted the other get in the car first

Un joins him in the car shortly afterwards, before the huge motorcade ferried the Russian President to Pyongyang’s main square where thousands upon thousands of adoring citizens were eagerly awaiting his arrival.

The crowds erupted into cheers and let loose a torrent of bright coloured balloons at the sight of the Kremlin chief, who stood beside his host and took in the rapturous applause before they made their way through Kim Il Sung Square along a huge red carpet.

The pair were saluted by a string of military guards atop snow-white horses before making their way past a gaggle of children clutching balloons and waving frantically at the smirking autocrats.

Other revellers were seen touting huge portraits of the Russian President standing beside the Russian flag – the colours of which adorned the facades of buildings around the square.

The ceremony also gave Kim a chance to introduce Putin to a host of key figures in his Politburo, including Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui; top aide and ruling party secretary Jo Yong Won; and his powerful sister, Kim Yo Jong, who besides her role as chief propagandist has in recent months become a fiery-tongued mouthpiece of the regime.

After touring the square, Kim and Putin clambered into an open-top limousine, which whisked them away to Pyongyang’s Kumsusan State Guest House, North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said, for their first talks together on North Korean soil.

The agency described their meeting as a historic event that demonstrates the ‘invincibility and durability’ of the two nations’ friendship and unity.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un (R) attend a welcoming ceremony on June 19, 2024 in Pyongyang, North Korea

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un (R) attend a welcoming ceremony on June 19, 2024 in Pyongyang, North Korea

North Korean people attend a welcoming ceremony for the Russian President Vladimir Putin during his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang, North Korea, 19 June 2024

North Korean people attend a welcoming ceremony for the Russian President Vladimir Putin during his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang, North Korea, 19 June 2024

Putin thanked Kim for the support and said the two countries would sign an agreement to boost their partnership as both ‘fight against the imperialist hegemonistic policies of the US and its satellites against the Russian Federation’.

The Russian President added that the ‘new fundamental document will form the basis of our ties for a long perspective’, according to Russian news agencies.

North Korea is under heavy UN Security Council economic sanctions over its nuclear weapons and missile programmes, while Russia is also grappling with sanctions by the United States and its Western partners over its aggression in Ukraine.

Putin, making his first trip to North Korea in 24 years, thanked North Korea for ‘consistent and unchanging support of the Russian policies, including in the Ukrainian direction’, hailing ties that date back to the Soviet army fighting the Japanese military on the Korean Peninsula in the closing moments of World War II, and Moscow’s support for Pyongyang during the Korean War.

‘Our pilots flew tens of thousands of combat missions during the liberation war of 1950-53,’ Putin said.

Kim responded that relations between Moscow and Pyongyang are at a new high, even compared to Soviet times, and voiced hope that ‘the fiery friendship of the two countries will grow more monolithic,’ according to Russian state news agencies.

The North Korean leader was quoted vowing his country’s ‘full support and solidarity to the Russian government, army and people in carrying out the special military operation in Ukraine to protect sovereignty, security interests and territorial integrity’.

People wave to the motorcade carrying North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin during a welcoming ceremony at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on June 19, 2024

People wave to the motorcade carrying North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin during a welcoming ceremony at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on June 19, 2024

Pool photograph distributed by the Russian state agency Sputnik, North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin walk past children during a welcoming ceremony at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on June 19, 2024

Pool photograph distributed by the Russian state agency Sputnik, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin walk past children during a welcoming ceremony at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on June 19, 2024

Kim has used similar language in the past, consistently saying that North Korea supports what he describes as a just action to protect Russia’s interests and blaming the crisis on the US-led West’s ‘hegemonic policy.’

It wasn’t immediately clear what that support from Pyongyang might look like.

He also hailed Russia’s ‘important role and mission in preserving the strategic stability and balance in the world.’

Putin’s visit to North Korea – his first since the early months of his initial presidential term – comes amid growing concerns about an arms arrangement in which Pyongyang provides Moscow with badly needed munitions to fuel Russia’s war in Ukraine in exchange for economic assistance and technology transfers that would enhance the threat posed by Kim’s nuclear weapons and missile programme.

Putin also said in his published remarks that Russia and North Korea will develop trade and payment systems ‘that are not controlled by the West’ and jointly oppose sanctions against the countries, which he described as ‘illegal, unilateral restrictions’.

Moscow and Pyongyang have been allies since North Korea’s founding after World War II and have drawn even closer since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 led to the West isolating Putin internationally.

The United States and its allies have accused North Korea of supplying Russia with much-needed arms, including ballistic missiles to use in Ukraine, which mocked the growing relationship between the two nations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, right, arrive to attend the official welcome ceremony in the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, right, arrive to attend the official welcome ceremony in the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Russia's President Vladimir Putin and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un attend an official welcoming ceremony at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea June 19, 2024

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un attend an official welcoming ceremony at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea June 19, 2024

The North has denied giving Russia military hardware but, ahead of his trip, Putin thanked Kim Jong Un’s government for helping the war effort.

‘We highly appreciate that the DPRK (North Korea) is firmly supporting the special military operations of Russia being conducted in Ukraine,’ Putin wrote in an article published by Pyongyang’s state media on Tuesday.

Russia and the North are ‘now actively developing the many-sided partnership’, Putin wrote.

Both countries are under rafts of UN sanctions – Pyongyang since 2006 over banned nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and Moscow over the invasion of Ukraine.

Putin praised North Korea for ‘defending their interests very effectively despite the US economic pressure, provocation, blackmail and military threats that have lasted for decades’.

He also hailed Moscow and Pyongyang for ‘maintaining the common line and stand at the UN’.

North Korea said the visit showed bilateral ties ‘are getting stronger day by day’, the official Korean Central News Agency reported, and would ‘give fresh vitality to the development of the good-neighbourly cooperative relations between the two countries’.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged the international community to counter ‘the lonely bromance’ between Putin and Kim by increasing arms supplies to Kyiv.

Vladimir Putin beamed as he was greeted by Kim Jong-Un after touching town in North Korea

Vladimir Putin beamed as he was greeted by Kim Jong-Un after touching town in North Korea

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) walking with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un upon arrival at the airport of Pyongyang, North Korea, 18 June 2024

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) walking with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un upon arrival at the airport of Pyongyang, North Korea, 18 June 2024

‘The best way to respond to it is to continue strengthening the diplomatic coalition for just and lasting peace in Ukraine and delivering more Patriots and ammunition to Ukraine,’ Kuleba told AFP.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Putin’s trip showed how he was ‘dependent’ on authoritarian leaders.

‘Their closest friends and the biggest supporters of the Russian war effort – war of aggression – (are) North Korea, Iran and China,’ Stoltenberg said.

North Korea is eager for high-end military technology to advance its nuclear, missile, satellite and nuclear-powered submarine programmes, according to experts.

Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov said the two leaders would possibly sign a ‘comprehensive strategic partnership treaty’ to outline cooperation on ‘security issues’, state-run Russian news agencies reported.

North Korea could promise ‘to provide Russia with continuing supplies of artillery, guided rockets for multiple rocket launchers, and short-range missiles to support Russia’s operations in Ukraine’, Bruce Bennett, senior defence analyst at RAND Corporation, told Yonhap.

A convoy transports North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and and Russian President Vladimir Putin during a welcoming ceremony at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on June 19, 2024

A convoy transports North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un and and Russian President Vladimir Putin during a welcoming ceremony at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on June 19, 2024

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (center-R) listens to Russian President Vladimir Putin (center-L) during their meeting in Pyongyang on June 19, 2024.

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un (center-R) listens to Russian President Vladimir Putin (center-L) during their meeting in Pyongyang on June 19, 2024.

In return, it will want ‘Russia to provide a variety of advanced technologies’, he said, plus ‘a substantial flow of Russian oil and food products along with hard currency payments’.

Despite this, North Korea has described allegations of supplying weapons to Russia as ‘absurd’.

However, it did thank Russia for using its UN veto in March to effectively end monitoring of sanctions violations just as UN experts were starting to probe alleged arms transfers.

The United States voiced ‘concern’ on Monday about the trip because of the security implications for South Korea as well as Ukraine.

The two Koreas have remained technically at war since their 1950-53 conflict and the border dividing them is one of the most heavily fortified in the world.

‘We know North Korean ballistic missiles are still being used to hit Ukrainian targets (and) there could be some reciprocity here that could affect security on the Korean peninsula,’ National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters.