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US mocks Russian car for North Korean leader

By AFP

February 22, 2024 03:40 PM


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A US spokesman on Wednesday mocked President Vladimir Putin's gift of a Russian car to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as he accused Moscow of violating UN resolutions.

North Korean state media said Tuesday that Kim was "presented with a car made in Russia for his personal use by Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, president of the Russian Federation."

Asked about the gift, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters in Washington, "I actually, frankly, didn't know there was such a thing as a Russian luxury car."

"I hope Kim got the extended warranty," he quipped.

Kim's powerful sister, Yo Jong, said the "gift serves as a clear demonstration of the special personal relations between the top leaders," according to the Korean Central News Agency.

Russia and North Korea have been moving closer since Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, with Kim meeting Putin in Russia's Far East in September.

US and South Korean officials say that Russia, long a pre-eminent military power, has become so desperate to replenish its arsenal that it has turned to North Korean and Iranian imports.

Echoing an earlier statement from South Korea, the United States said that the gift would go against a UN Security Council ban on sending luxury goods to North Korea, which has defiantly carried out years of nuclear and missile tests.

"If this is true, it would appear to be once again Russia violating UN Security Council resolutions that it itself supported," Miller said.

Russia's best-known car is the Lada, which became the butt of jokes in the West during the Cold War due to its no-frills utilitarian design, with its ultra-low price drawing budget-conscious drivers outside the Soviet bloc.

The car enjoyed a makeover with help from France's Renault, which after the Ukraine invasion gave up its 68 percent stake in Lada's company AvtoVAZ, handing the assets to Moscow.


AFP


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