North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is on his way to Russia for a meeting with Russian President Putin. The Kremlin and the North Korean state news agency KCNA confirmed this.
Kim comes to Russia at the invitation of Putin. The Russian president is said to have arrived today in Vladivostok, not far from the border with North Korea. South Korean media previously reported that Kim is on his way to Vladivostok by train, and that the two will meet there on Tuesday.
According to American sources, the leaders will discuss arms supplies and food aid. Putin would like to buy weapons from North Korea for the fight in Ukraine. In return, Kim would want nuclear-powered submarines, Russian satellite technology and food supplies for the population. The most closed country in the world has been struggling with food shortages for years.
The North Korean state news agency does not mention a reason for the meeting. KCNA only says that Putin and Kim will meet and discuss.
Russian Defense Minister Shoigu visited the North Korean capital Pyongyang in July. He would have already asked Kim to send weapons to Russia, American sources say. Shogyu also said at the time that Russia and North Korea were considering holding joint military exercises. It would be the first time that the countries have undertaken this together.
Washington says it would be a “big mistake” if North Korea supplies weapons to Russia that could be used in Ukraine, and warns Pyongyang it will “pay” for it.
Kim rarely leaves his country. The last time was in 2019, before the corona pandemic, when he also traveled to Vladivostok for a meeting with the Russian president.
Just like last time, the North Korean leader travels with his own train, which was also often used by his father and grandfather. The wagons are reportedly armored. That makes the train heavy and relatively slow: the maximum speed would only be about 88 kilometers per hour.
There is luxury on board that the average North Korean is not familiar with. Several high-ranking Russian officials who were allowed to travel on the train in the past wrote about dinners with French wines and fresh lobster, singing female conductors and special carriages for Kim’s Mercedes.
Japanese media write that security has been increased at the station in the Russian border town of Chasan, where Kim’s train is likely to enter Russia. This is consistent with previous reports about his train journeys: stations on the route are said to be extensively checked in advance, and Kim’s train is preceded by another train with security guards on board for safety reasons. There would also be a lot of police in Vladivostok.
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