Russian, Chinese delegates join North Korea at parade featuring ICBMs

North Korean Hwasong-18 intercontinental ballistic missile during a military parade in Pyongyang, North Korea, July 27, 2023. [AP Photo]

North Korean state media also highlighted a message sent by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who thanked Kim for "firmly supporting" his war efforts in Ukraine. Putin said that interests between Moscow and Pyongyang were aligning as they counter the "collective West in its policy to stand in the way of establishing a genuinely multipolar and just world order," according to the Kremlin's version of the letter.

Kim also held a luncheon and dinner banquet for Shoigu and his delegation following a second day of talks about expanding the countries' "strategic and tactical collaboration and cooperation" in defense and security, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said.

"Given Russia's need for ammunition for its illegal war in Ukraine and Kim Jong Un's willingness to personally give the Russian defense minister a tour of North Korea's arms exhibition, U.N. member states should increase vigilance for observing and penalizing sanctions violations," said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.

"China's representation at North Korea's parading of nuclear-capable missiles raises serious questions about Beijing enabling Pyongyang's threats to global security," he said.

The parade capped the North Korean festivities for the 70th anniversary of the armistice that stopped fighting in the 1950-53 Korean War. North Korea, which triggered the war with a surprise attack on the South in June 1950, was supported by Chinese troops and the then-Soviet air force. South Korea, the United States and troops from other nations under the aegis of the U.N. fought to push back the invasion.

The July 1953 truce was never replaced with a peace treaty, leaving the Korean Peninsula in a technical state of war, but the North still sees it as a victory in the "Grand Fatherland Liberation War."

The anniversary events were more somber in South Korea, where President Yoon Suk Yeol visited a war cemetery in Busan to honor foreign troops who died while fighting for the South.

In the face of growing North Korean threats, Yoon has pushed to expand South Korea's military exercises with Washington and is seeking stronger U.S. reassurances that it would use its nuclear capabilities to defend the South in the event of a nuclear attack.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also marked the anniversary with a statement expressing concern over what he described as a growing "nuclear risk" on the Korean Peninsula.