Publish dateWednesday 13 September 2023 - 14:12
Story Code : 276582
Kim Jong Un arrives in Russia as US warns of arms deal
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Russia on Tuesday ahead of a meeting with President Vladimir Putin that the US has warned could see an arms deal to support Moscow’s assault on Ukraine.
Afghan Voice Agency (AVA) - Monitoring: Making a rare foreign trip and his first since the pandemic, Kim was seen stepping onto a red-carpeted train platform before meeting Natural Resources Minister Alexan­der Kozlov.
Kim and Putin are expec­ted to meet at an unspecified location in Russia’s far east later this week, the Kremlin has said.
The Russian president is currently attending the East­ern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, the Pacific port city closest to the North Kore­­an border, though there has been no indication that the internationally isolated pair would hold their talks there.
Reporters granted access to the Russian leader at the forum refrained from asking Putin details of the visit but he told journalists he would soon travel to the Vostochny Cosmodrome, a Russian spac­eport some 1,000km from Vladivostok.
“I’ve got my programme there, and when I get there you’ll know,” he was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying.
Experts say Moscow will likely seek artillery shells and antitank missiles from North Korea, which wants advanced satellite and nuclear-powered submarine technology in return.
Siemon Wezeman, a senior researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, said it was “entirely possible” North Korea had large stocks of ammunition that could be used by Russia.
“Whether any deal is str­u­ck remains to be seen,” he said.
“We will not know for sure until there is hard evidence that Russia has used North Korean arms and ammunition on the battlefield in Ukraine,” he added.
The White House warned last week that North Korea would “pay a price” if it supplied Russia with weaponry for the conflict in Ukraine.
Kremlin spokesman Dmi­try Peskov said Putin and Kim would “cooperate on sensitive areas that should not be the subject of public disclosure and announcements”.
Steadfast allies
Kim is travelling to Russia with his top military officials including Korean People’s Army Marshal Pak Jong Chon and Munitions Industry Department Director Jo Chun Ryong, analysts said.
This indicates a Putin-Kim summit “is likely to heavily focus on Russia and North Korea’s possible military cooperation,” Yang Moo-jin, president of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, told AFP.
Moscow sent Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu to Pyongyang in July.
Kim has been steadfast in his support for Moscow’s assault on Ukraine, including, Washington says, supplying rockets and missiles.
But both Moscow and Pyongyang have denied North Korea has or will supply arms to Russia.
‘Begging’ for help
On Monday, the United Sta­­tes described Putin as desperate in seeking a meeting with Kim
“Having 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 would characterise it as him begging for assistance,” State De­­partment spo­kesman Mat­thew Miller said./Dawn news
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