North Korea’s Kim to Visit Russia as US Warns of Arms Deal

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will meet President Vladimir Putin in Russia’s Far East as the US is warning Pyongyang may provide Moscow arms for its war on Ukraine.

(Bloomberg) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will meet President Vladimir Putin in Russia’s Far East as the US is warning Pyongyang may provide Moscow arms for its war on Ukraine. 

Kim will travel to Vladivostok and visit with Putin during the annual Eastern Economic Forum, which will be held Sept. 10-13, according to a person familiar with the plans. 

The US earlier said Kim expected “leader-level talks” with Putin as he seeks weapons, and that arms negotiations between the two countries were “actively advancing.”

Putin and Kim held their first official meeting in April 2019, when the North Korean leader traveled to Vladivostok on an armored train across his country’s border with Russia. The possible trip would be Kim’s first outside of the Korean Peninsula since he last met Putin four years ago. 

Read more: Why Putin and Kim Becoming Pals Is a Danger to World: QuickTake

While the 2019 meeting touched on the breakdown of nuclear disarmament talks between North Korea and the US, the upcoming visit will likely be colored by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The discussions will be focused on the development of the cooperation between the nations, a person familiar said. 

The meeting provides Putin an opportunity to further strengthen ties with a country outside of the US and Europe’s sphere of influence. The US has accused North Korea for months of providing weapons to help in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

The US warned of punishment for any arms transfer, with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan saying at a White House briefing that talks are advancing between the two on North Korea providing weapons to Russia for its war in Ukraine. 

“This is not going to reflect well on North Korea, and they will pay a price for this in the international community,” Sullivan said.

Recently, the Kim and Putin exchanged letters and Russian officials visited Pyongyang to discuss possible arms deals, according to US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby. Russia in July also proposed joint naval drills with North Korea and China, Yonhap News reported, citing South Korea’s spy agency, though there was no indication of whether Kim accepted the offer. 

The New York Times earlier reported the North Korean leader could travel to Russia as early as next week. The Kremlin didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on the reports about the visit during his daily briefing, according to reports from Russian news services. 

The White House has previously said the weapons North Korea can provide Russia wouldn’t significantly alter the situation on the battlefield. The most likely weapons Pyongyang may send would be artillery shells, artillery rockets and anti-tank missiles. 

In return, Kim seeks Russian help on advanced technology, including for satellites and submarines, as well as food aid, according to the New York Times report, which cited US officials.

Read: Rare Russian VIP Jet in North Korea Spurs Arms Deal Concern

Last year, Putin used the Vladivostok event to underline his view that Russia will emerge stronger from his invasion of Ukraine while lashing out at US and European “sanctions fever.” 

Myanmar’s junta head Min Aung Hlaing, who’s sanctioned by the US for alleged human rights violations, was one of the main guests at that event.

One of the themes for this year’s forum will be expanding international trade, investments, scientific and technical cooperation, Putin said in an address published on the forum’s site. A few officials from Mongolia, Laos, Myanmar and China are scheduled to attend, according to the forum’s program.  

–With assistance from Jon Herskovitz and Philip Glamann.

(Updates with comments from White House briefing.)

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