North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is likely to be in Russia this month to meet President Vladimir Putin. Discussion is likely to focus on the Kremlin acquiring military hardware from North Korea to bolster the Russian forces with weapons for the ongoing Ukraine war.
The White House has been closely monitoring talks between the two countries as arms negotiations are now in the advanced stage. John Kirby, the National Security Council spokesman, said Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had tried to convince Pyongyang to sell artillery ammunition to Moscow during last month’s visit to North Korea.
The US has urged the DPRK to cease its arms negotiations with Russia and abide by the public commitments that Pyongyang has made to not provide or sell weapons to Russia. Moreover, the United States has warned to take action, including sanctions if North Korea did supply Russia with the weapons.
This comes after the White House revealed last week that it had intelligence indicating that Putin and Kim exchanged letters following Shoigu’s visit. Kirby believes the letters were more at the surface level, but highlighted that the two countries’ talks on a weapons sale were advancing.
Officials say that Putin is trying to persuade North Korea to send Russia artillery shells and antitank missiles. In return, Kim Jong Un wants Moscow to provide North Korea with advanced technology for satellites and nuclear-powered submarines. North Korea also wants food aid for the struggling country. Kim Jong Un is also likely to visit Pier 33, where naval ships from Russia’s Pacific fleet dock and Vostochny Cosmodrome.
It should be noted that a delegation of about 20 North Korean officials traveled by train from Pyongyang to Vladivostok, in late August, and flew to Moscow. This trip is regarded as a planned expedition which took 10 days.
Meanwhile, South Korea has raised concerns that Kim Jong Un’s Russia trip may result in increased military cooperation between the two countries in Asia. But experts believe the deal between Russia and North Korea is more transactional than strategic. Russia is in dire need of weapons and North Korea needs food and money.