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Feb 19, 2024 | In The News

Daily Mail

Vladimir Putin has gifted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a Russian-made car for his personal use in a demonstration of their ‘special personal relations.’

A report confirming the gift didn’t say what kind of vehicle Putin gave the North Korean dictator or how it was shipped. 

But observers said it could violate a UN resolution that bans supplying luxury items to North Korea in an attempt to pressure the country to abandon its nuclear weapons.

Kim´s sister, Kim Yo Jong, and another North Korean official accepted the gift Sunday and she conveyed her brother’s thanks to Putin, the Korean Central News Agency said. 

Kim Yo Jong said the gift showed the special personal relationship between the leaders, the report said.

North Korea and Russia have boosted their cooperation significantly since Kim traveled to Russia last September for a summit with Putin. 

During Kim’s visit to Russia’s main spaceport, Putin showed the North Korean leader his personal Anrus Senat limousine and Kim sat in its backseat.

According to Russia´s state-run Tass news agency, Aurus was the first Russian luxury car brand and it’s been used in the motorcades of top officials including Putin since he first used an Anrus limousine during his inauguration ceremony in 2018.

Kim, 40, is known to possess many foreign-made luxury cars believed to have been smuggled into his country in breach of the UN resolution.

During his Russia visit, he traveled between meeting sites in a Maybach limousine that was brought with him on one of his special train carriages.

During an earlier Russia trip in 2019, Kim had two limos waiting for him at Vladivostok station – a Mercedes Maybach S600 Pullman Guard and a Mercedes Maybach S62. 

He also reportedly used the S600 Pullman Guard for his two summits with then-President Donald Trump in Singapore in 2018 and Vietnam in 2019. 

In 2018, Kim used a black Mercedes limousine to return home after a meeting with South Korea’s then-President Moon Jae-in at a shared Korean border village.

Kim´s possession of such expensive foreign limousines shows the porousness of international sanctions on the North. 

Russia voted for the ban on supplying luxury good to North Korea, even though as a permanent Security Council member, it could have vetoed the resolution.

The expanding ties between North Korea and Russia come as they are locked in separate confrontations with the United States and its allies – North Korea for its advancing nuclear program and Russia for its protracted war with Ukraine. 

A group of lawmakers warned the State Department about arms transfers between North Korea and Russia late last week. 

The letter, led by Republican Reps. Young Kim, Calif., Tom Kean, N.J., Joe Wilson, S.C., and Nathaniel Moran, Texas, is asking the Biden administration for answers on whether North Korea’s sale of arms to Russia could mean Moscow is assisting Pyongyang in its quest for nuclear and advanced ballistic weapons. 

It comes after Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK) agreed to sell arms to Russia, which has since used Korean ballistic missiles to bomb Ukraine. The DPRK has since offered ammunition and artillery shells too.

The United Nations has warned that North Korea is seeking military assistance from nuclear-armed Russia in response. Russia has been a part of the UN National Security Council’s imposing of an arms embargo on Pyongyang for its missile test since 2006, but is now violating the embargo.

The US, South Korea and their partners accuse North Korea of sending conventional arms to Russia for its war in Ukraine, in return for high-tech Russian weapons technologies and other support.

After its foreign minister returned home following a Russian visit in January, the North´s state media reported Putin expressed his willingness to visit the North at an early date.

Russian President Putin has weighed heavily over the news cycle in the US and across the globe in recent weeks.

Many across the country have been outraged as Alexei Navalny, the fiercest foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was reported to have died in prison on Friday, according to Russia‘s prison agency.

The Federal Prison Service said in a statement that Navalny, 47, felt unwell after a walk and ‘almost immediately lost consciousness’. Paramedics reportedly came to try to rehabilitate him without success. 

Navalny, who was serving a 19-year sentence on charges of ‘extremism’, had only recently been moved from his former prison in the Vladimir region of central Russia to a grisly ‘special regime’ penal colony above the Arctic Circle.

His allies, a brave minority in Russia fighting corruption, said at the time they feared for his life after he ‘disappeared’ in December to travel to the remote region notorious for its long and severe winters – just months before the closely-watched Russian presidential elections next month. 

Navalny’s allies say they were denied the opportunity to see the body, which would remain with the authorities until an investigation was complete.

Navalny’s lawyer, who arrived in the town of Salekhard with Navalny’s mother on Saturday, was allegedly told by the prison that the body was being held in the morgue. 

A contact at the Salekhard morgue later denied the body was there – leaving yet more question marks around the shock death of one of Putin’s most fierce critics.

‘It’s obvious that the killers want to cover their tracks and are therefore not handing over Alexei’s body, hiding it even from his mother,’ his team said in a post on Telegram. 

Former President Donald Trump issued a comment on the death of Navalny – using the occasion to blast ‘grossly unfair’ court decisions in the U.S. 

President Joe Biden placed blame for Navalny’s death squarely on Putin – though he froze up when trying to articulate an attack on former President Donald Trump over his recent comments on Russia. 

It also comes as Putin has declared he would prefer to see Joe Biden win a second term in the White House over Donald Trump in an eyebrow-raising interview with Russian media. 

Describing the incumbent US President as ‘predictable’, Putin said Biden would be the preferred choice for the Kremlin because it sees him as steadier than the firebrand, outspoken Republican.

‘Biden, he’s more experienced, more predictable, he’s a politician of the old formation… But we will work with any US leader whom the American people trust,’ Putin said.

Asked about speculation on Biden’s health issues, Putin responded: ‘I’m not a doctor and I don’t consider it proper to comment on that,’ before later going on to defend the US President, who has faced increased scrutiny as of late over his age and declining memory.

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