Japanese media reported on Tuesday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had arrived in Russia for what the Kremlin said would be a thorough talk with President Vladimir Putin despite warnings from Washington that they should not agree to an arms deal.
According to Tuesday’s state-run media in the North, Kim and the foreign minister boarded his private train on Sunday and departed Pyongyang for Russia.
A train carrying Kim had arrived at Khasan station, the primary rail hub for North Koreans traveling to Russia’s Far East, according to a report from the Japanese Kyodo news agency on Tuesday, which cited an anonymous Russian official source.
According to a spokeswoman for South Korea’s defense ministry, Kim entered Russia early on Tuesday.
Only seven excursions outside of his country and two crossings of the inter-Korean border have been made by Kim in his twelve years in charge. Four of those journeys were to China, the North’s principal political ally.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, said, “It will be a full-fledged visit.” Negotiations between two delegations will take place, and if necessary, the leaders will then continue speaking to one another one-on-one.
The Khasan government representative who was asked about the reports of Kim’s visit declined to comment.
When the visit was first predicted to happen, U.S. officials claimed that Russia and North Korea were actively moving forward in their arms negotiations and that Kim and Putin would probably talk about giving Russia weapons for the war in Ukraine.
On Monday, according to the Russian TASS news agency, Putin arrived in Vladivostok. He is expected to attend the Eastern Economic Forum’s plenary session, which runs through Wednesday.
According to Russian news outlets, Peskov stated that his meeting with Kim would take place after the forum and that no leaders’ press conference is scheduled.
Neither the meeting’s location nor Kim’s attendance at the economic forum have been confirmed.
Both Pyongyang and Moscow have denied that North Korea will give Russia armaments, whose enormous arsenals have been depleted over the course of the conflict’s more than 18-month duration.
Recent indications of increased military collaboration between Russia and the nuclear-armed North have alarmed Washington and its allies. After meeting in 2019 during his most recent international trip, this will be Kim and Putin’s second summit.
According to Russian news outlets, Peskov stated that Russia’s policies would be determined by its national interests.
The interests of our two countries, not threats from Washington, are vital to us when executing our ties with our neighbors, particularly North Korea, Peskov was reported as saying.
According to one observer, the North Korean team includes key party officials who oversee military and defense-related matters, such as Jo Chun Ryong, director of the Munitions sector Department, which raises the possibility that the visit would center on fostering defense sector cooperation.
According to Michael Madden, a North Korea leadership analyst at the Stimson Center in Washington, “Jo Chun Ryong’s presence indicates that North Korea and Russia will come to some sort of agreement for the purchase of munitions.”
Former ambassador to Russia and current vice foreign minister of South Korea Chang Ho-jin stated it would be in Moscow’s best interest to think about its international status following the crisis in the Ukraine and keep in mind that it helped create the existing nonproliferation regime.
Whatever (Russia) conducts with the North, “military cooperation would be in violation of Security Council resolutions,” he warned.
Washington warned Pyongyang once more on Monday not to give or sell weapons to Russia that could be used in the conflict in the Ukraine. It urged the North to uphold its commitment not to do so.
Any transfer of weapons from North Korea to Russia, according to the U.S. State Department, would be against resolutions of the UN Security Council that forbid any exchange of weaponry with North Korea.
“We, of course, have aggressively enforced our sanctions against entities that fund Russia’s war effort… and will not hesitate to impose new sanctions appropriately,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.
Since the invasion of Ukraine last year, North Korea is one of the few nations to publicly back Russia, and Putin promised last week to “expand bilateral ties in all respects in a planned way by pooling efforts”.
When Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu paid a visit to Pyongyang in July, Kim offered him a personal tour of an arms show in a stunning display. They also stood together to observe a military parade that included banned ballistic missiles.
Even as late as 2017, Russia and China had cast votes in favor of Security Council resolutions sanctioning North Korea for its ballistic missile launches and nuclear testing.