The Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, made his arrival at a Russian cosmodrome in the Far East today for a consequential meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The meeting evidences a realignment of interests between the two leaders in the face of escalating confrontations with the United States.
Upon arrival, Kim was warmly welcomed by Putin at the entrance of a launch vehicle assembly building. Their greeting was characterized by a firm handshake, and Putin expressed his pleasure at seeing Kim once more. The North Korean leader’s translator communicated Kim’s gratitude for the inviting reception in spite of Putin’s hectic schedule. Following their inspection of the cosmodrome, the duo is scheduled to engage in important dialogues, as reported by Russian state media.
The dawn of the day saw North Korea launch two ballistic missiles in the direction of the sea. This act prolongs a provocative streak of weaponry testing that commenced at the start of this year. Kim is believed to be harnessing the chaos instigated by Russia’s warfare in Ukraine, using it as a smokescreen to accelerate his country’s weapons development.
For Putin, this rendezvous with Kim serves as an opportunity to replenish military supplies, which have been significantly diminished by the ongoing 18-month skirmish. Conversely, for Kim, this encounter offers an avenue to bypass severe United Nations imposed sanctions and years of diplomatic seclusion. During this pivotal meeting, Kim is anticipated to advocate for economic aid and military technology, even though further arms agreements would contravene international sanctions previously backed by Russia.
Although South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff didn’t confirm the distance travelled by the North Korean missiles, Japan’s Coast Guard suggested that the projectiles likely landed and warned vessels to beware of falling objects.
Kim’s journey to Russia began on his private train which made a stop at Khasan, a station on the Russia-North Korea border. Here, he was greeted by a military honor guard, a brass band, and high-profile officials including regional Gov. Oleg Kozhemyako and Natural Resources Minister Alexander Kozlov.
Kim’s decision to visit Russia, four years after his previous visit, is said to manifest Pyongyang’s elevated strategic significance towards its relationship with Moscow, according to the Korean Central News Agency. The Agency reported Kim’s subsequent departure to another undisclosed location.
Joining Putin’s delegation for the talks is Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. On Kim’s side, his entourage consists of Foreign Minister Choe Sun Hui, Korean People’s Army Marshals Ri Pyong Chol and Pak Jong Chon, Defense Minister Kang Sun Nam, among others.
Several North Korean officials who were photographed with Kim during his trip could provide clues as to the requests Kim will place before Putin and the concessions he may be willing to offer.
It’s speculated that Kim’s primary agenda might involve securing energy supplies and food. However, there are also conjectures on North Korea lending millions of its Soviet-Era artillery shells and rockets to Russia, which could massively bolster the Russian army’s strength in Ukraine.
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Lim Soo-suk, underlined that no UN member should violate Security Council’s sanctions against North Korea or indulge in military cooperation that potentially undermines the peace and stability of the global community.
Claims of North Korea selling artilleries to the Russian mercenary group Wagner were vehemently denied by both countries. These speculations of military cooperation grew even more rife after Shoigu, the Russian Defense Minister, visited North Korea in July. Post his visit, Kim embarked on a tour of his country’s weapons factories.