North Korean leader Kim Jong-un plans to travel to Russia and meet with President Vladimir Putin this month, the New York Times and Associated Press reported on Monday, citing US and “allied” officials.
According to the NYT, Kim would travel to Vladivostok, a city on Russia’s Pacific Coast, “probably by armored train,” where both leaders would attend the annual Eastern Economic Forum (EEF), scheduled for September 10-13, the report said, adding that Kim plans to visit a Russian naval base. Neither Moscow, nor Pyongyang have commented on the matter.
Kim, who rarely leaves the country and mostly travels by train, last met with Putin in Vladivostok in 2019.
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu made a surprise visit to Pyongyang in July, where he and Kim attended a military parade, marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the 1950-1953 Korean War. Shoigu later said that Moscow was open to holding joint drills with North Korea. Shoigu also delivered “a personal message” from Putin to Kim, according to the Kremlin.
The NYT cited its sources as saying that Kim planned to discuss “the possibility of supplying Russia with more weaponry for its war in Ukraine and other military cooperation.” The report came after the US claimed last year that North Korea was secretly sending shells to Russia. These allegations were denied by the Kremlin and later by Aleksandr Matsegora, Russia’s ambassador in Pyongyang.
At the same time, North Korea has consistently backed Russia during its military operation in Ukraine and warned that the deliveries of US-made F-16 fighter planes could spark “a nuclear war.” Pyongyang has also blamed the US for orchestrating the Ukraine conflict and the current standoff between NATO and Russia.
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