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Putin gave North Korea's Kim a luxury car as a gift

The Russian leader's gift might violate the U.N. Security Council resolution against North Korea, which bans the export of any luxury goods to the nation.
Kim Jong Un gifted a car by Putin
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visiting the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia in September.Mikhail Metzel / Pool via AFP - Getty Images

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has received a car from Russian President Vladimir Putin “for his personal use,” North Korean state media reported Tuesday, a possible violation of a U.N. resolution against Pyongyang that Russia also agreed to.

The car was delivered to North Korea by the Russian side Feb. 18, according to a report from the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, “courteously conveyed Kim Jong Un’s thanks to Putin to the Russian side, saying that the gift serves as a clear demonstration of the special personal relations between the top leaders of the DPRK and Russia and as the best one,” it added, using the initials for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The KCNA report did not specify what kind of car it was or how it had arrived in North Korea from Russia.

South Korea's Unification Ministry told NBC News that it could not confirm any details about the vehicle, and that it considered the gift a violation of United Nations Security Council sanctions that ban the provision or sale of luxury goods to North Korea directly or indirectly.

North Korea and Russia have grown closer since their leaders met at a September summit held in Russia’s Far East, where Putin said he would support North Korea’s satellite program. Two months later, North Korea successfully launched its first spy satellite into orbit.

The burgeoning relationship has fueled Western concerns that North Korea could provide more lethal support to Russia and that Russia could help North Korea with its nuclear and missile programs.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry said it was closely monitoring the relationship between Russia and North Korea.

Exchanges and cooperation between the two countries “should be conducted in a manner that contributes to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in compliance with relevant Security Council resolutions,” spokesperson Lim Soo-suk said at a briefing in Seoul on Tuesday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russia's state-run RIA Novosti news agency that the car presented to Kim is an Aurus car, which is also Russia’s presidential car.

Aurus Motors says on its website that it is the first luxury car produced in Russia. Putin showed off his presidential limousine to Kim at the September summit and invited him to take a seat.

Kim said he liked the car after examining the car and, “therefore, this decision was made,” Peskov told reporters in a briefing call Tuesday. “North Korea is our neighbor. Close neighbor. We intend to and will develop our relations with all neighbors, including North Korea,” he added.

Kim is known to be a luxury car enthusiast and has been spotted riding in a Mercedes Maybach and other luxury cars on a number of occasions. It is likely they were smuggled into the nation, despite the U.N. ban.

North Korea is believed to have provided military support, including missiles, to Russia for its war in Ukraine, which would also violate a Security Council resolution. North Korea has denied this while the Kremlin has not definitively disputed this.

In a separate story by KCNA on Tuesday, North Korea said it would send three delegations to attend forums and meetings in the field of fisheries, technology and sports in Russia. It also reported the return of a delegation from the nation’s ruling party from Russia.

Putin also expressed that he wanted to visit North Korea soon when meeting with North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui in Russia last month, KCNA reported in January.