North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has promised “full support and solidarity” for Russia’s war in Ukraine as President Vladimir Putin said during their meeting in Pyongyang that Moscow is fighting against the decades-long “hegemonic and imperialist policy” of the United States and its allies.

Putin on Wednesday thanked Kim for support in Ukraine and said the two countries would sign an agreement to boost their partnership.

The Russian leader is on his first visit to North Korea in 24 years, with relations between the two countries growing closer in the months since Moscow began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and rising concern that Pyongyang is providing Russia with weapons in return for Russian technological expertise.

Russia and North Korea have denied arms transfers but have promised to strengthen military ties.

Putin landed in the North Korean capital before dawn on Wednesday where Kim was waiting to greet him despite the early hour.

The two men shook hands and hugged while a woman in a traditional Korean hanbok presented Putin with a bouquet of red roses.

Kim then joined Putin in his limousine as they travelled together in a motorcade, along streets decorated with the Russian flag and portraits of the Russian leader, to the Kumsusan State Guest House.