Mercurial North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is apparently not planning to attend the celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over the Nazi’s in World War II, according to an announcement from the Kremlin on Thursday. Rumors had been swirling that the reclusive North Korean leader was going to make his first trip abroad to Moscow for the anniversary events, but apparently it’s not going to happen.
Kim Jong Un took power after his father’s death in 2011, but has yet to leave the country. Political analysts say his refusal to travel is probably related to fears of a takeover in his absence.
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“Kim Jong Un has decided to stay in Pyongyang. He won’t be able to attend. The decision was transmitted to us by diplomatic channels. It’s connected with internal Korean affairs, it’s his decision,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov noted on Thursday.
More on Russia 70th anniversary Victory Day celebrations
Russian President Vladimir Putin is promising the largest Victory Day celebrations ever, and has invited almost 70 global leaders to the May 9th parade, including the U.S. president. President Obama turned down the invitation, and many other leaders have done the same.
German Chancellor also Angela Merkel declined the invitation, but she will attend another ceremony in Moscow the next day. Analyst point out her actions how many European leaders have to balance their interactions with Russia while enforcing Moscow’s isolation by the West relating to the Ukraine crisis. Of note, the leaders of Belarus, the Czech Republic and Slovakia likewise plan to be in Moscow for the celebrations, but will not be at the parade.
The highest profile attendees are likely to be China’s Premier Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will watch the parade of some 16,000 troops on the 9th. Leaders from nearly all the former Soviet countries are also planning to attend the parade.
Russia and North Korea inching closer
Russian President Putin has reached out to Kim Jong Un, as Russia and North Korea have worked to develop better relations over the past year. Part of the reason is that Moscow needs North Korea’s cooperation to increase their natural gas shipments to growing South Korea. Pyongyang is hoping for economic support from Russia, as well as a friend on the UN Security Council to protect it from censure regarding its human rights record.
In a related development, a spokesman for ministry responsible for Russian Far East development noted Kim Jong Un’s decision to not come to Moscow would not impact ongoing efforts between Russia and North Korea to improve ties.
Recent executions in North Korea ordered by Kim Jong Un
As reported by ValueWalk Wednesday, according to an April 28th report from the Associated Press, South Korean intelligence officials told lawmakers on that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered the execution at least 15 senior government officials over the last four months.
Only limited details were available, but apparently the officials executed included a vice-minister of forestry who complained about current policies, and four senior members of the well-known Unhasu Orchestra who were accused of espionage.
South Korean intelligence officials had been anticipating that Kim Jong Un would be attending the Victory Day celebrations in Moscow.