Russian President Vladimir Putin said North Korea's Kim Jong-un is a "mature and competent politician" who is now steering the nation in acquiring a long-range missile capable of reaching any region in the world.
In comments seemingly to heap praise on the rogue leader, who inherited the hermit kingdom from his father and grandfather, Putin added that he believes Kim has "won this round" with the US President Donald Trump referring to the ongoing tensions.
While speaking to a group of journalists, the Russian president said Kim "has solved his strategic task - he has a nuclear device, and a global-range missile with a range of up to 13,000 kilometers, which can now reach practically any point of the globe, at any rate any point on the territory of a potential enemy".
Putin went on to add: "He is an absolutely competent and already mature politician."
Russia and North Korea share part of their border and maintain somewhat cordial relations. However, the North's traditional allies, both China and Russia, have been put on the back foot in global platforms over Pyongyang's increasing belligerent stance on its nuclear and missile programmes.
The Russian president insisted the only way to resolve tensions in Korean peninsula region is through dialogue. Mentioning the goal of denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, he said: "I think that this is possible in the long run no matter how difficult it may seem."
Tensions in the Korean peninsula have escalated in recent years with the defiant North rapidly improving its weapons activities with no regard to UN regulations.
Putin's comments emerged just as when Trump had also indicated he "probably" has a good relationship with Kim. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, the American president said: "I probably have a very good relationship."
When pressed further whether he has spoken to Kim, Trump responded: "I'm not saying I have or haven't. I just don't want to comment."
The US has not had any direct contact with North Korea since 2012, at least officially. Yet, Washington is thought to have maintained back-channel negotiations to push via diplomatic channels at the United Nations.