Putin Gifts a Car to Kim Jong Un in Touching Valentine’s Week Gesture

Mikhail Metzel/Sputnik via Reuters
Mikhail Metzel/Sputnik via Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin gifted a car to his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong Un over the weekend, state media reported Tuesday, the latest goodwill gesture amid deepening ties between their regimes.

The Russian-made car was delivered to Kim’s aides on Feb. 18, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported, just a few days after Valentine’s Day. A Kremlin spokesperson confirmed the vehicle was an Aurus, a luxury car manufacturer created in 2018 to make Russia’s official state cars.

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Kim had seen the vehicle while visiting Russia and “Putin personally showed it to him, and of course, like many others, he liked this vehicle. That’s why such a decision was made [to gift it to him].”

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KCNA said the car is for Kim’s “personal use” and reported that his sister, Kim Yo Jong, expressed thanks to Putin on her sibling’s behalf, “saying that the gift serves as a clear demonstration of the special personal relations between the top leaders.”

The gift might constitute a breach of U.N. sanctions on North Korea which Moscow had agreed to adopt, with a spokesperson for South Korea’s foreign ministry telling a media briefing that supplying Pyongyang with vehicles “including luxury cars” is prohibited by Security Council resolutions.

The Aurus Senat limousine is the vehicle Putin uses. The automaker’s website says the car “represents the renaissance of Russia’s industrial, scientific and technological potential,” and claims to offer a level of ballistic protection that means passengers will “only feel more secure in an armored military vehicle.”

Kim inspected the limousine during a visit to Russia in September and Putin invited him to get into the back seat, according to Reuters. The North Korean despot is known to have a fleet of luxury cars despite international sanctions and he was seen in a Maybach during his Russia visit. He’s also been spotted in Mercedes limos, a Lexus SUV, and a Rolls-Royce Phantom.

During the meeting, Kim said he supported Russia in its “sacred struggle to defend its state sovereignty,” referring to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. He added that we “will always stand together in the fight against imperialism.”

North Korean weapons including rockets, missiles and artillery have reportedly been sent to Russia during its war, though the Kremlin has not confirmed or denied their use in Ukraine. North Korea has denied that it has sent arms to Russia, as such shipments would also constitute a breach of U.N. sanctions.

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