According to media reports, North Korea's ruler Kim Jong Un wants to travel to Russia to negotiate arms deliveries with President Vladimir Putin. Moscow is concerned with securing supplies of weapons and ammunition for the war of aggression against Ukraine, the New York Times reported, citing unnamed officials from the United States and the government of allies. Meanwhile, in the midst of the ongoing counter-offensive, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy paid a visit to his soldiers not far from the front.
According to the newspaper report, Kim's visit is to take place on the sidelines of an economic forum in Vladivostok, which is scheduled for September 10-13. The Washington Post also reported on the planned meeting. Putin had already met the North Korean in 2019 in the city on Russia's Pacific coast. In July, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited North Korea, where he took part in the military parade, among other things.
Will Kim travel to Vladivostok by armored train?
Kim rarely leaves his isolated country, but officials say he could travel to Vladivostok on an armored train, the New York Times wrote. It is also possible that Kim will travel to Moscow. According to the newspaper, Putin hopes to be supplied with North Korean artillery shells and anti-tank weapons. Kim is said to be hoping for advanced technology for satellites and nuclear-powered submarines. He is also trying to get food aid for his impoverished country.
US National Security Council communications director John Kirby said on Wednesday that US intelligence agencies had information about arms sales negotiations between the two countries. Accordingly, Shoigu recently traveled to North Korea to convince Pyongyang to sell artillery ammunition to Russia. After that visit, Putin and Kim exchanged letters in which they pledged to expand their bilateral cooperation.
With the envisaged arms deals, Russia would receive from North Korea "significant quantities and several types of munitions that the Russian military intends to use in Ukraine," Kirby said last week. The US government is asking North Korea to end negotiations with Russia.
Zelenskyj on soldiers: "I'm proud of them all"
Artillery and ammunition supplies from Pyongyang could help Russian forces repel the Ukrainian army's counteroffensive. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy on Monday visited the Donetsk and Zaporizhia regions near the front line and praised the army's "heroic" fight to liberate the country. He spent the whole day with soldiers and visited various units, Zelenskyj said in a video message recorded on the train. "Each one is strong. I'm proud of them all." He did not give exact locations.
During his visit to the troops, the lack of personnel in some combat units and a lack of certain types of ammunition were also discussed. In addition, it was about the need for drones and weapons to defend against enemy drones as well as logistical aspects.
In the Zaporizhia region, Zelenskyy met the command level of the troops that had recently overcome Russian defenses, including Brigadier General Oleksander Tarnavskyy. The officer had said in an interview that the armed forces had broken through the first and most heavily secured Russian line of defense and were now moving towards the second line.
Ukraine is fighting for its independence with Western military aid in the war that Russia started on February 24, 2022. As part of the counteroffensive, Kiev wants to liberate the Zaporizhia, Donetsk, Luhansk and Cherson areas, some of which are controlled by Moscow, from Russian occupation. Another goal of Ukraine is to recapture the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014 in violation of international law.