Kim Jong Un’s arrival in Russia, as he prepares to meet President Vladimir Putin, has raised concerns in the West. There are worries that the North Korean leader might offer military support to Moscow in the Ukraine conflict.
According to the South Korean defense ministry, Kim is thought to have arrived in Russia at early on Tuesday local time on the opulent armored train that North Korean officials often take.
In a briefing on Tuesday, the ministry noted that Kim was accompanied by many military commanders. “We are closely monitoring if there will be a negotiation between North Korea and Russia over the arms trade and technology transfer,” the ministry said.
Kim’s presence in Russia was also verified by the Russian news outlet Interfax, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
On Monday, the Kremlin said that Kim was in the country at Putin’s request and that there would be discussions between the two teams. According to the statement, Kim’s visit would take place in “the coming days” and might perhaps involve a private meeting with Putin, “if necessary.”
Kim reportedly departed Pyongyang, the nation’s capital, for Russia by train on Sunday afternoon, according to state-run media in North Korea. According to state news agency KCNA, he was accompanied by unidentified military, government, and Workers’ Party of Korea leaders.
According to the outlet, Kim was given “a warm send-off” by senior authorities in Pyongyang, however, it was unclear if he had already arrived in Russia. Kim was captured on camera waving from his green-and-yellow train as he passed honor guards.
Without giving any information, KCNA had earlier reported that Kim and Putin were scheduled to meet.
Vladivostok in eastern Russia, roughly 430 miles northeast of Pyongyang, where Putin came on Monday for Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum, is one location where they may meet. When Kim made his final trip to Russia in 2019, the two leaders met in Vladivostok.
After three years of international isolation, Kim is visiting Russia for the first time. The U.S. Defence Department stated on Monday that “some type of meeting” was anticipated between Putin and Kim.
According to a spokeswoman, Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, “I just don’t have any information to provide” on the specifics of that meeting, what would be addressed, when, and where.
He said, “We continue to be worried that North Korea may be considering giving Russia any kind of weaponry or material support in support of their conflict against Ukraine.
The White House has frequently cautioned North Korea against entering into any arms deals with Russia, as doing so would be against many resolutions of the UN Security Council. Jake Sullivan, the national security advisor, stated last week that if North Korea gave Russia weapons, it would “pay a price” in the international community.
The Biden administration will closely observe any meeting between Putin and Kim, according to State Department spokesman Matthew Miller on Monday. He said that the United States will keep enforcing sanctions against organizations supporting Russia’s military campaign and “will not hesitate to impose new sanctions if appropriate.”
As Moscow tries to stave off a Ukrainian counteroffensive, Russia has been looking elsewhere for assistance, resorting to other U.S. foes like North Korea. According to U.S. officials and state media in both nations, Kim and Putin pledged to enhance their collaboration in letters they exchanged last month.
Last week, American officials stated that they anticipated Kim would visit Russia and that the weapons negotiations were “actively advancing” and were likely to continue during Kim’s visit.
According to experts, Russia will likely ask for artillery shells in exchange for giving North Korea electricity and food help, where there are claims of malnutrition since Kim prioritizes his nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. North Korea is reportedly starving.
Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, South Korea, suggested that Kim would also desire Russian assistance in developing North Korea’s submarine, missile, and satellite technology.
But he said that it is doubtful that Russia would transmit such technology, “because even a desperate war machine does not trade its military crown jewels for old, dumb munitions.”
The two nations would also refrain from disclosing all the specifics of any arms purchase, he added, “because of the serious international legal violations involved.”