NORTH KOREA: North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, will travel to Russia by armoured train for a meeting with Vladimir Putin amid concerns that Pyongyang may supply Moscow with weapons for the conflict against Ukraine, according to reports.
According to South Korean media, an armoured train transporting Kim left Pyongyang for Russia across North Korea’s northeastern border. A meeting is anticipated to take place as soon as Tuesday in the Russian port city of Vladivostok, where Putin has already arrived.
Kim will be travelling abroad for the first time in more than four years and since the Covid-19 pandemic. The White House reported that Russia is seeking to buy more artillery shells from North Korea to strengthen its defence industrial base.
According to US officials, a meeting between the two leaders is planned for this month. US national security adviser Jake Sullivan warns North Korea will “pay a price” for providing Russia weapons for Ukraine.
The US has already accused North Korea with providing artillery munitions to the Russian mercenary organisation Wagner.
Any arms agreement between North Korea and Russia, according to the US, Britain, South Korea, and Japan, would be against UN Security Council resolutions.
Kim Jong-un and Putin are expected to meet at the annual Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, which will run until September 13. The Kremlin announced Putin’s arrival in Vladivostok for a two-day visit.
Kim and Putin, who first met in 2019, are aiming to combat international isolation caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs by fostering closer military and economic ties.
North Korea’s banned ballistic missiles were displayed at a defence exhibition in Pyongyang, where Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu visited in July.
Analysts suggest North Korea’s arsenal contains artillery shells, rockets, and small arms rounds, potentially helping Russia restock military supplies after 18 months of fighting in Ukraine. Moscow may also offer its nuclear-powered submarine and satellite technology.