North Korea warmly welcomed the Russian defense minister on Wednesday July 26, according to state media, marking the country’s first-known foreign visitors since its pandemic-induced border closure. Delegations from Moscow and Beijing are also expected to participate in the Korean War anniversary events, as the North Korean regime rolled out the red carpet for the occasion.

North Korea rolled out the red carpet for the Russian defense minister, state media said Wednesday, with delegations from Moscow and Beijing set to attend Korean War anniversary events, the country’s first-known foreign visitors since its pandemic border closure.

Pyongyang is on Thursday marking the 70th anniversary of the signing of the July 27, 1953 Korean War armistice, which ended open hostilities and is celebrated as Victory Day in the North.

Russia, a historic ally of North Korea, is one of a handful of nations with which Pyongyang maintains friendly relations.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been steadfast in his support for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, including, Washington says, supplying rockets and missiles.

The fact that Russia’s defense minister flew to Pyongyang while his country is at war was “very significant”, said Park Won-gon, director of Ewha University’s Institute of Unification Studies.

For the Chinese and Russians, their presence could send a “strong unified message” to the United States, Park added.

But Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University, said the visit was unlikely to result in any arms deals or diplomatic advances, calling it “a symbolic show of solidarity on a war anniversary”.

Khalil Wakim, with AFP