According to experts, the upcoming summit in Vladivostok, Russia, may center on a weapons agreement because Putin is apparently looking to buy weapons from North Korea for use in Moscow’s war in Ukraine.
Seoul: Prior to his meeting with President Vladimir Putin, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un landed in Russia on Tuesday. The US has warned that the meeting may result in an arms sale to bolster Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. According to photos released by North Korean official media, an unflinching Kim waved from the doors of his heavily armored private train as it departed Pyongyang on Sunday evening. This was his first journey outside of North Korea since the crisis.
According to Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, Kim and Putin will meet this week at an undisclosed location in the Far East of Russia.
Although there has been no hint that the two internationally isolated parties will hold their discussions there, Putin is now attending the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, the Far Eastern city closest to the North Korean border.
According to experts, Moscow would likely ask North Korea for anti-tank missiles and artillery shells in exchange for advanced satellite and nuclear submarine technology.
North Korea would “pay a price” if it provides Russia with weapons for the situation in Ukraine, the White House warned last week.
Kim departed North Korea for Russia on Sunday despite the warnings, according to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
Top military figures from North Korea, including those in charge of manufacturing weapons and space technologies, were with him, it continued.
Peskov stated that the two leaders would “cooperate on sensitive areas that should not be the subject of public disclosure and announcements”.
Kim was accorded a “warm send-off” replete with a red carpet and honor guard at Pyongyang station at around 18h38 (09h38 GMT), according to KCNA pictures.
Kim was said to have crossed the border on Tuesday by the Russian state news agency Ria Novosti, which published pictures of the train’s dark green carriages being carried by a Russian Railways locomotive along a track.
According to observers, Kim is visiting Russia with his senior military leaders, including Marshal Pak Jong Chon of the Korean People’s Army and Director Jo Chun Ryong of the Munitions Industry Department.
According to Yang Moo-jin, president of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, a Putin-Kim summit “is likely to heavily focus on Russia and North Korea’s possible military cooperation,” he told AFP.
Sergei Shoigu, the defense minister for Moscow, visited Pyongyang in July. He recently proposed conducting bilateral cooperative naval exercises.
Kim has consistently backed Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, according to Washington, including providing rockets and missiles.
But despite the fact that Russia has been depleting its enormous stocks of weapons ever since it began its assault on Ukraine early last year, neither Moscow nor Pyongyang have acknowledged that North Korea has or will supply it with arms.
Since the onset of the coronavirus outbreak, Kim has not left North Korea. The year 2019 also saw him travel to Russia to meet with Putin.
Begging for assistance
According to Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, “North Korea has the substandard ammunition that Putin needs for his illegal war in Ukraine, while Moscow has satellite, ballistic, and submarine technologies that could help Pyongyang leapfrog engineering challenges it faces as a result of economic sanctions.”
The United States characterized Putin’s efforts to meet with Kim as desperate on Monday.
“I would characterize it as him begging for assistance,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said. “He had to travel across the length of his own country to meet with an international pariah to ask for assistance in a war that he expected to win in the opening month.”
“I will remind both countries that any transfer of arms from North Korea to Russia would be in violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions,” he continued.
As winter approaches, Washington has warned that Russia may strike Ukrainian food supplies and heating infrastructure using weapons sourced from North Korea in an effort to “conquer territory that belongs to another sovereign nation.”
A Putin-Kim summit was a part of Moscow’s “gentle diplomatic blackmail” of Seoul, according to Andrei Lankov, a North Korea expert at Kookmin University in Seoul, who spoke to AFP. This was because Russia did not want South Korea to provide arms to Kyiv.
Although Seoul is a significant arms exporter and has provided Poland, an ally of Kyiv, with tanks, a long-standing domestic policy prohibits Seoul from providing armaments to current hostilities.
The Russian government is currently most concerned about a potential transfer of South Korean munitions to Ukraine, possibly in multiple batches, according to Lankov.