North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will head to Moscow later this year to attend a World War II anniversary ceremony, according to the Russian government. The move is considered by some to be an effort to strengthen ties between the two countries.
The Guardian reports that Russian president Vladimir Putin invited Kim to take part in May’s commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany. The trip would mark Kim’s first trip outside of the country since he rose to power following the death of his father, Kim Jong-il. The elder Kim made his own trip to Russia in August 2011, a few months before he passed away.
The invitation and subsequent visit are the latest in a developing relationship between the two countries, especially as North Korea looks to minimize its dependency on neighboring China, according to the British newspaper. Most recently, Russia has expressed interest in chipping in billions of dollars for a project to expand North Korea’s railroads in exchange for mineral resources. Russia has also joined China in opposing the United Nations’ effort to bring Kim and North Korea to the International Criminal Court over their human-rights violations.