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Putin gave Kim Jong Un a Russian-made car in a show of their special ties, North Korea says

SEOUL, South Korea — Russian President Vladimir Putin has gifted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a Russian-made car for his personal use in a demonstration of their special relationship, North Korea’s state media reported Tuesday.

The report didn’t say what kind of vehicle it was or how it was shipped. But observers said it could violate a U.N. 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 U.N. 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. The U.S., 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.

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