September 23, 2023

By Kim Tong-Hyung | Related Press

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea’s Kim Jong Un rolled by way of Russia on an armored prepare Tuesday towards a gathering with President Vladimir Putin, a uncommon encounter between remoted leaders pushed collectively by their want for help in escalating standoffs with the West.

Kim is predicted to hunt financial help and navy know-how for his impoverished nation, and, in a twist, seems to have one thing Putin desperately wants: munitions for Russia’s grueling struggle in Ukraine.

It’s an opportunity for the North Korean chief to get round crippling U.N. sanctions and years of diplomatic isolation. For Putin, it’s a possibility to refill ammunition shops that the struggle has drained.

Any arms cope with North Korea would violate the sanctions, which Russia supported previously.

Kim’s private prepare stopped in Khasan, a station on the Russia-North Korea border, early Tuesday the place it was met by a navy honor guard and a brass band. He was met on a crimson carpet by regional Gov. Oleg Kozhemyako and Pure Assets Minister Alexander Kozlov, in line with North Korean state media and video posted on social media channels.

Kim stated his determination to go to Russia 4 years after his earlier go to — his first international journey for the reason that COVID-19 pandemic — confirmed how Pyongyang is “prioritizing the strategic significance” of its relations with Moscow, North Korea’s official information company stated Wednesday.

The Korean Central Information Company stated Kim then left for his vacation spot, but it surely didn’t specify the place.

Many had assumed he and Putin would meet in Vladivostok, a Russian metropolis near the border the place the 2 leaders had their final assembly in 2019, and which Putin is visiting this week for an financial discussion board.

However Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed solely that Kim has entered Russia, and state information company RIA-Novosti later reported his prepare had headed north after crossing the Razdolnaya River, taking it away from Vladivostok. The South Korean information company Yonhap later printed a photograph it stated confirmed the prepare in Ussuriysk, a metropolis about 60 kilometers (about 40 miles) north of Vladivostok that has a large ethnic Korean inhabitants.

Some Russian information media speculate he’s headed for the Vostochny spaceport, which Putin is to go to quickly. On the discussion board, Putin declined to say what he meant to do there. The launch facility is about 900 kilometers (550 miles) northwest of Ussuriysk, however the route there may be circuitous and it’s unclear how lengthy Kim’s slow-moving prepare would take to succeed in it.

Peskov stated Putin and Kim will meet after the Vladivostok discussion board, and that the assembly would come with a lunch in Kim’s honor.

Kim left Pyongyang on his prepare Sunday, accompanied by members of the ruling occasion, authorities and navy, KCNA stated.

Officers recognized in North Korean state media pictures may trace at what Kim would possibly search from Putin and what he could be prepared to offer.

Kim is accompanied by Jo Chun Ryong, a ruling occasion official answerable for munitions insurance policies who joined him on current excursions of factories producing artillery shells and missiles, in line with South Korea’s Unification Ministry. Russian Protection Minister Sergei Shoigu might be a part of the Russian delegation, Peskov stated.

Kim’s delegation additionally contains Overseas Minister Choe Solar Hui and his prime navy officers, together with Korean Individuals’s Military Marshals Ri Pyong Chol and Pak Jong Chon and Protection Minister Kang Solar Nam.

North Korea could have tens of hundreds of thousands of ageing artillery shells and rockets based mostly on Soviet designs that would give an enormous increase to the Russian military in Ukraine, analysts say.

Additionally recognized in pictures had been Pak Thae Track, chairman of North Korea’s house science and know-how committee, and navy Adm. Kim Myong Sik, who’re linked with North Korean efforts to accumulate spy satellites and nuclear-capable ballistic missile submarines. Consultants say North Korea would battle to accumulate such capabilities with out exterior assist, though it’s not clear if Russia would share such delicate know-how.

Kim Jong Un might also search badly wanted power and meals provides, analysts say. Deputy Overseas Minister Andrei Rudenko stated Russia could focus on humanitarian help with the North Korean delegation, in line with Russian information businesses.

Knowledge from, which tracks flights worldwide, confirmed an Air Koryo An-148 took off from Pyongyang on Tuesday and flew to Vladivostok. North Korea’s nationwide airline has solely simply resumed flying internationally after being grounded through the COVID-19 pandemic. There had been hypothesis that North Korea may use a aircraft to fly in help workers.

Kim is making his first international journey for the reason that pandemic, throughout which North Korea imposed tight border controls for greater than three years. After many years of hot-and-cold relations, Russia and North Korea have drawn nearer since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Lim Soo-suk, South Korea’s Overseas Ministry spokesperson, stated Seoul was sustaining communication with Moscow whereas intently monitoring Kim’s go to.

“No U.N. member state ought to violate Safety Council sanctions in opposition to North Korea by participating in an unlawful commerce of arms, and should definitely not have interaction in navy cooperation with North Korea that undermines the peace and stability of the worldwide group,” Lim stated at a briefing.

U.S. deputy ambassador Robert Wooden stated Tuesday that Moscow’s potential offers with North Korea may embrace “the supply of uncooked supplies that may help Russia’s protection industrial base.” Wooden’s feedback got here throughout a U.N. Safety Council assembly known as by Russia to protest Western weapons provides to Ukraine.

In accordance with U.S. officers, Putin may give attention to securing extra provides of North Korean artillery and different ammunition to refill arsenals as Moscow seeks to rebuff a Ukrainian counteroffensive and present that he’s able to grinding out an extended struggle of attrition. That would doubtlessly put extra stress on the U.S. and its companions to pursue negotiations as issues over a protracted battle develop regardless of their enormous shipments of superior weaponry to Ukraine previously 18 months.

America has accused North Korea of offering Russia with arms, together with promoting artillery shells to the Russian mercenary group Wagner. Each Russian and North Korean officers denied such claims.