Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to visit North Korea on Tuesday, his first trip to the country in 24 years. During his two-day visit to Pyongyang, Putin will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Their discussions will focus on expanding security and economic cooperation, particularly in defiance of Western sanctions imposed on both nations.

Before the meeting, Putin praised North Korea for its support of Russia’s ongoing military efforts in Ukraine. The two leaders intend to develop alternative trade and financial systems independent of Western control. Putin emphasized their mutual opposition to Western sanctions, labeling them as “unilateral and illegal restrictive measures.”

North Korea has faced extensive UN sanctions due to its nuclear weapons and missile programs, while Russia grapples with sanctions from the US and its allies due to the conflict in Ukraine. Observers are concerned about a potential arms agreement where North Korea provides Russia with munitions in exchange for economic aid and technological advancements to bolster its nuclear capabilities.

The visit follows a September meeting between Putin and Kim in Russia’s Far East. Security collaborations between the nations have increased, raising fears in the West of enhanced North Korean military capabilities. Both countries have denied accusations of North Korean weapon transfers to Russia.

The Russian delegation for the visit includes high-level officials from the defense and energy sectors. The leaders are expected to finalize a strategic partnership agreement, reflecting recent geopolitical developments. This meeting underscores the strengthening relationship between Russia and North Korea amidst their confrontations with Western powers.