North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is preparing to visit Russian President Vladimir Putin, likely this month, to discuss the sale of Russian artillery shells and anti-tank weapons for use in Ukraine, The New York Times reported Monday, citing US and allied officials. Kim and Putin are likely to meet in Vladivostok, just north of Russia’s narrow land border with North Korea on Russia’s Pacific coast, when Russia hosts the Eastern Economic Forum from September 10-14.
Whether or not her meeting happens, asking North Korea for weapons “must be terribly embarrassing for the Russian leadership and for the Kremlin,” said CNN analyst Steve Hall, a former CIA chief of Russian operations. “It would be like the United States turning to Uruguay and saying, ‘Hey, can you help us in this war?'”
Arms negotiations have “actively moved forward” since Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Pyongyang in July and a North Korean delegation visited Russia in August, National Security Council spokesman Adrienne Watson said Monday night. Kim “expects these discussions to continue, including leadership-level diplomatic engagement in Russia.”
The US has been warning for months that North Korea is preparing to sell ammunition to Russia and did so late last year by supplying infantry missiles and missiles used by Wagner mercenaries in Ukraine, while House national security spokesman John Kirby, said last week.
US intelligence indicating an upcoming meeting between Putin and Kim has not been released, but several major news organizations have published similar reports from US officials.
That publicity is a “strong reason why the visit is now unlikely,” John Everard, a former British ambassador to Pyongyang, told BBC News. “Kim Jong Un is completely paranoid when it comes to his personal safety. He goes to great lengths to keep his movements secret and if word gets out that he intends to go to Vladivostok to meet with President Putin, he will probably spend the entire cancel the case.”
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