Putin gives Kim Jong Un a luxury limousine. It’s a violation of UN sanctions on North Korea

Putin gives Kim Jong Un a luxury limousine. It's a violation of UN sanctions on North Korea © Provided by The Canadian Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin has gifted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a Russian-made luxury limousine for his personal use, both countries announced Tuesday, in another sign of their expanding cooperation.

Observers said the shipment violates 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 senior 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.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin gave Kim Jong Un a high-end Aurus Senat limousine that he showed to the North Korean leader when they met for a summit in Russia in September. Kim was shown the Aurus limousine at Russia’s main spaceport.

Kim “liked the car, and so the decision was made” to present it to him as a gift, Peskov said, according to Russia’s state-run Tass news agency. “North Korea is our neighbor, our close neighbor.”

Tass earlier reported that Aurus was the first Russian luxury car brand, and it’s been used in motorcades of top officials since Putin first used an Aurus 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 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 expensive foreign limousines shows the porousness of international sanctions on the North. Russia, a permanent Security Council member, voted for the ban on supplying luxury goods to North Korea, along with other international sanctions adopted in response to the North’s nuclear and missile tests.

North Korea and Russia have boosted their cooperation significantly as they are locked in separate confrontations with the United States and its allies — North Korea for its nuclear program and Russia for its war with Ukraine. Russia, along with China — another U.N. Security Council member — has repeatedly stymied the U.S. and others’ bids to toughen U.N. sanctions on North Korea over its prohibited missile tests in recent years.

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. Such arms transfers would violate multiple U.N. resolutions banning any weapons trade involving North Korea.

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

Source: Hyung-jin Kim, The Associated Press