Kim Jong Un has pledged his support to Russia in what he has described as the “fight against imperialism”.
The North Korean leader praised Russia and its president for a fighting a “sacred war” against “hegemonic forces” – thought to be a reference to the West.
“We will always support the decisions of President Putin and the Russian leadership … and we will be together in the fight against imperialism,” Mr Kim told Mr Putin via a translator.
Ukraine-Russia war latest: Putin and Kim conversation details emerge – as North Korean leader ‘fires questions about rockets’
Mr Putin, meanwhile, listed economic cooperation, humanitarian issues and the “situation in the region” among the agenda items for their talks.
It comes after the pair shook hands as they met at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia’s biggest domestic space launch centre.
The two leaders are holding talks – their first in person since 2019 – at the site in Siberia.
Mr Putin is believed to be seeking ammunition from heavily militarised North Korea for his invasion of Ukraine – which he has himself compared to the conquests of Russia’s former imperialist monarch, Peter the Great.
Kim Jong Un supports Putin’s ‘fight against imperialism’ – but Russia has its own imperial ambitions
North Korea’s leader has shown his support for Russia’s “fight against imperialism” – but Vladimir Putin has in the past lamented the loss of Russia’s own empire.
Spanning much of northern Eurasia between the early 1700s until the Soviet revolution in 1917, the Russian Empire was the third largest in the history of the world – behind only the British and Mongol Empires in terms of land mass.
The empire was founded at the end of the rule of Peter I, often known as Peter the Great, who built it through a mixture of reform, diplomacy and conquest.
Mr Putin has previously drawn comparisons between his own presidency and the rule of Peter the Great.
Speaking after visiting an exhibition to celebrate the 350th anniversary of Peter’s birth last year, the Russian president also drew a parallel to his invasion of Ukraine.
“Peter the Great waged the Great Northern War for 21 years,” he said.
“It would seem that he was at war with Sweden, he took something from them. He did not take anything from them, he returned [them].”
Referring to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine he said: “Apparently, it also fell to us to return [what is Russia’s] and strengthen [the country]. And if we proceed from the fact that these basic values form the basis of our existence, we will certainly succeed in solving the tasks that we face.”
Mr Putin also previously called the collapse of the Russian Empire’s successor, the USSR, the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century” and lamented the loss of “territory of the former Russian Empire” during its fall.
Experts believe Mr Kim is seeking Russian technical assistance for his efforts to develop military reconnaissance satellites.
The meeting came hours after North Korea fired two ballistic missiles toward the sea, extending a highly provocative run of North Korean weapons testing since the start of 2022.
Mr Putin welcomed Mr Kim, who arrived at the facility in a limousine, having travelled from Pyongyang in his special armoured train with his influential sister Kim Yo Jong.
Pak Thae Song, chairman of North Korea’s space science and technology committee, and navy Admiral Kim Myong Sik, who are both linked with North Korean efforts to acquire spy satellites and nuclear-capable ballistic missile submarines, also travelled in the delegation, according to South Korea’s Unification Ministry.
Mr Kim and Mr Putin shared a handshake that lasted about 40 seconds following the North Korean leader’s arrival, with the Russian president saying he was “very glad to see” him.
During the tour of the space centre, Mr Kim peppered a Russian space official with questions about the rockets.
In August, North Korea’s second attempt to launch a reconnaissance satellite failed due to an error in the booster’s third stage, according to the country’s state-controlled media.
In late May, a North Korean rocket carrying a spy satellite also plunged into the sea soon after lift-off.
Asked whether Russia will help North Korea build satellites, Mr Putin was quoted by Russian state media as saying: “That’s why we have come here.”
“The DPRK leader shows keen interest in rocket technology. They’re trying to develop space, too,” he added.