On Tuesday, the Russian embassy in Pyongyang announced that Russian President Vladimir Putin presented North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un with a commemorative medal marking the 75th anniversary of Britain, Russia, and other allied forces’ victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

The Russian embassy said that the war medal was awarded to the North Korean leader for his significant role in preserving the memory of Soviet soldiers who died on North Korea’s territory.

“In accordance with the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation and the Chairman of the State Council of the DPRK, Kim Jong-un has been awarded the jubilee medal for the “75th Anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945,” for his great personal contribution to preserving the memory of Soviet citizens who died and were buried on the territory of the DPRK [North Korea] and for the concern for the safety of burial places and memorials of Soviet soldiers in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”

However, Kim Jong-un was not able to attend the ceremony. Alexander Matsegora, Russia’s ambassador in North Korea, presented the award to North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Son-gwon. Kim, who was rumored to have fallen ill earlier this month, has been absent in a couple of important celebrations, but last week, he made his first public appearance after the rumors and attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony of a factory in his country.

In the photos, the Russian ambassador and North Korea’s representative were seen wearing face masks despite North Korea having no zero reported coronavirus cases.

Kim Jong-un was invited to Moscow on May 9 to attend a military parade marking the same anniversary, but the invitation and the parade were postponed following the coronavirus pandemic.

Vladimir Putin had his first official meeting with Kim Jong-un last year in the Siberian city of Vladivostok. Putin described their meeting as a “very wonderful time,” although no plans regarding the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula have been agreed on or announced. Russia remains North Korea’s most loyal ally, after communist China.