North Korean leader Kim Jong-un plans to travel to Russia and meet with President Vladimir Putin this month, the New York Times and Associated Press reported on Monday, citing US and “allied” officials.
According to the NYT, Kim intends to travel to the city of Vladivostok, on Russia’s Pacific Coast, “probably by armored train,” where both leaders would attend the annual Eastern Economic Forum (EEF), scheduled for September 10-13, adding that Kim plans to visit a Russian naval base. Neither Moscow nor Pyongyang have commented on the matter.
Kim, who rarely leaves the country and mostly travels by train, last met with Putin in Vladivostok in 2019.
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu made a surprise visit to Pyongyang in July, where he and Kim attended a military parade, marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the 1950-1953 Korean War. Shoigu later said that Moscow was open to holding joint drills with North Korea. Shoigu also delivered “a personal message” from Putin to Kim, according to the Kremlin.
The NYT cited sources claiming that Kim planned to discuss “the possibility of supplying Russia with more weaponry for its war in Ukraine and other military cooperation.” The report came after the US claimed last year that North Korea was secretly sending shells to Russia. The allegations were denied by the Kremlin and later by Aleksandr Matsegora, Russia’s ambassador in Pyongyang.
North Korea has consistently warned that deliveries of US-made F-16 fighter planes to Ukraine could spark “a nuclear war.” Pyongyang has also accused the US of orchestrating the Ukraine conflict and the standoff between NATO and Russia.