Putin Gifts New Car to North Korea’s Luxury Limo-Loving Leader Kim

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(Bloomberg) -- Vladimir Putin’s bonhomie with Kim Jong Un took a fresh turn, with the Russian president gifting the limousine-loving North Korean leader a new automobile.

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Putin gave Kim a Russian-made car for his personal use, North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency reported Tuesday. It was conveyed to a group that included Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of the leader, and there were no further details on how the car was handed over. She offered her thanks and said “the gift serves as a clear demonstration of the special personal relations between the top leaders,” KCNA said.

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told the RIA Novosti news service that Kim Jong Un received a new Aurus. The vehicle is the result of a Russian government program to produce a luxury limousine as a domestic alternative to foreign models such as Mercedes.

The United Nations Security Council has a list of items that are prohibited for export to North Korea to punish it for its nuclear weapons program. These include yachts, racing cars and luxury vehicles. South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Lim Soo-suk called on Russia to abide by the sanctions on North Korea, including those that prohibit the transfer of luxury goods.

The UN Security Council, however, likely has little it can do to punish Putin.

The gift comes as the US and South Korea have accused Kim Jong Un of supplying munitions worth several billion dollars to Putin to aid in his assault on Ukraine.

Read more: Kim Jong Un’s Russia Lifeline Gives Big Reason to Avoid War

Kim Jong Un has shown he likes to travel the roads in expensive vehicles. He has recently been seen in a Mercedes-Benz Maybach GLS 600 SUV, which sells at a base price of $174,350.

That is actually one of Kim’s least-expensive rides, with his fleet of limousines including an armored Mercedes-Maybach limo that can sell for over $1 million.

Kim has a special section in his luxury train for his limousines, including one vehicle seen driving in and out of a carriage when he shared handshakes and smiles with Putin at a summit in Russia in September.

Read more: Kim’s Transport of Choice Is a Slow, Swanky Bulletproof Train

Putin has been seen riding in the Russian-made Aurus Senat. It was described in a review by the Sydney Morning Herald’s Drive section as a 7,200 kilogram (15,870 pound) knock off of a Rolls Royce. Seats come in authentic Russian leather and options include bulletproof armor, it said.

Putin showed off his Aurus limousine to Kim when they met in September, Russia’s state-run Tass news agency reported, adding that Kim “tested its comfort by sitting in the rear passenger seat.”

--With assistance from Shinhye Kang.

(Updates with comments from South Korea in paragraph four.)

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