In a rare visit out of the country, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un will travel to Russia this month to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and discuss the supply of weapons for Ukraine War, according to reports.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, and has been engaged in a war since. The war, dubbed as 'special military operation' by Putin, has not gone as per plans for Russia and Russian forces have suffered heavy casualties. There have been reports that weapon and ammunition stockpiles have also been depleted.
The meeting between Kim Jong-Un and Putin is expected to take place in Vladivostok where the two leaders are scheduled to attend an economic conference.
During September 10-13, Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok would host the Eastern Economic Forum and both Kim Jong-Un and Putin will be there, reports The New York Times, adding that the two leaders could meet on the sidelines.
The reports of the meeting between Kim Jong-Un and Putin comes days after the White House said the two leaders have exchanged letters over an arms supply deal.
The United States had first mentioned the possibility of Russia-North Korea parternship over Ukraine a year ago,
"The United States first warned about cooperation between North Korea and Russia a year ago. Officials, citing declassified U.S. intelligence, said that Russia planned to buy artillery shells for use in Ukraine," reported NYT, which also reported that the current potential deal involves a trade-off in which North Korea provides Russia with shells and Russia helps North Korea with satellite, nuclear technology, and food supplies.
The reports of meeting between Kim Jong-Un and Putin comes a month after Russia Defence Minister Sergei K. Shoigu visited North Korea and met Kim Jong-Un. There, the North Korean leader took Shoigu to a military exhibition and showed him military equipment, including the banned ballistic missiles.
"During the meeting, Mr. Kim presented Mr. Shoigu with options for greater military cooperation and asked for Mr. Putin to visit North Korea, officials said. Mr. Shoigu then made a counterproposal, suggesting that Mr. Kim travel to Russia," reported NYT.
North Korea would not be the first country to supply weapns to Russia if the deal materialises. Russia has already been using drones made in Iran against Ukraine.
Experts have said that Kim Jong-Un could extract a profitable bargain as Russia is desperate on the Ukrainian front. The war has not in Russia's favour completely and, as the United States and West support Ukraine with weapons, training, and intelligence, Russia has oftne found itself in tough spots on the frontlines. Considering these ground realities, and the reported depletion of Russian weapons stockpiles, Russia might be convinced to help North Korea in areas of critical concern to the West, such as nuclear weapons programme.
"But by far the most worrying request Mr Kim could make is for Mr Putin to provide him with advanced weapons technology or knowledge, to help him make breakthroughs with his nuclear weapons programme. He is still struggling to master key strategic weapons, chiefly a spy satellite and a nuclear-armed submarine...And with Russia so desperate, the North Korean leader may feel he can wrangle even greater concessions from Moscow than he can Beijing. Mr Putin might agree to keep silent in the face of a North Korean nuclear test, whereas this could prove a step too far for Chinese President Xi Jinping," notes BBC News