International News Desk— 

Kim Jong Un’s heavily-armored private train has crossed into Russia ahead of an expected and closely-watched summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, state media reported Tuesday, amid warnings from the United States that the two leaders could strike an arms deal.

The train was traveling north through Primorsky Krai in the Far East region of the country, Russian state news agency RIA reported. South Korea’s Defense Ministry said it believed the North Korean leader entered Russia early Tuesday morning local time.

A video shared by Russia Today on Monday and geolocated by CNN showed the train purportedly carrying Kim near the Russian-North Korean border by the Tumen river.

The US government said last week that such a meeting, expected to take place in Russia’s far east, could take place as part of Russia’s efforts to find new suppliers for weapons to use in its war against Ukraine.

South Korean Defense Ministry spokesperson Jeon Ha-kyu said Tuesday the ministry is closely monitoring whether North Korea and Russia will proceed with negotiations on an arms deal and technology transfer.

Russia desperately requires fresh supplies of ammunition and shells while North Korea, which has faced years of international sanctions over its nuclear weapons program, is short of everything from hard cash and food to missile technology.

Kim Jong Un departs the North Korean capital Pyongyang by private train in this image provided by North Korean state media on September 10.

The North Korean leader departed the capital, Pyongyang, on Sunday afternoon accompanied by top party officials and members of the government and armed forces, North Korean news agency KCNA reported Tuesday.

Images released by KCNA showed Kim walking down a red carpet at a Pyongyang station and boarding the green train surrounded by officials. A crowd of onlookers could be seen cheering in the background and waving flags.

Neither country has specified when or where the visit would take place, nor what would be on the agenda of any potential face-to-face.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said bilateral relations between the nations will be a priority of the meeting, which will be a “full-blown visit, with talks between the two delegations,” according to Russian state media TASS.

A formal dinner is also planned in honor of Kim’s arrival, Peskov said.

Putin reportedly arrived in Vladivostok on Monday to attend the Eastern Economic Forum, Peskov earlier said, according to state TV Russia 24.

The North Korean leader at a Pyongyang station before departing on his private train in this image provided by North Korean state media on September 10.

A rare trip for Kim

Kim’s arrival in Russia marks his first foreign trip since the Covid-19 pandemic, during which North Korea’s borders were sealed, and only his 10th trip since assuming power in 2011.

All of Kim’s previous trips – including his first with Putin – came in 2018 and 2019, as the North Korean leader engaged in a series of talks aimed over the country’s nuclear weapons and missile programs.

The North Korea leader is said to prefer traveling in an upscale armored train – as did his father before him – but rail travel accounts for less than half of his foreign trips. Three of this nine trips have been made in planes and two, both to the DMZ, by car.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also visited Pyongyang in July in an attempt to convince it to sell artillery ammunition.

Washington’s warning

Last Tuesday, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan warned North Korea will “pay a price” if it strikes an arms deal with Russia, though he did not elaborate on these potential repercussions.

North Korea is already under United Nations and US sanctions imposed over Pyongyang’s weapons program.

The potential Putin-Kim meeting could lead to Pyongyang obtaining technology required to develop the sort of weapons those sanctions have barred it from accessing for two decades.

Kim Jong Un walks down a red carpet to a crowd of onlookers and officials before boarding his private train.

It also comes after more than a year and a half of war in Ukraine has left the Russian military battered, depleted and in need of supplies.

Following Monday’s announcement from both countries, the White House urged North Korea to “not provide or sell arms to Russia.

“As we have warned publicly, arms discussions between Russia and the DPRK are expected to continue during Kim Jong-Un’s trip to Russia,” said National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson in response to Russia and North Korea’s announcement.

Onlookers cheer and wave as Kim Jong Un departs the North Korean capital Pyongyang.

The statement also urged the country to “abide by the public commitments that Pyongyang has made to not provide or sell arms to Russia.”

After reports emerged of North Korean arms sales to Russia in September 2022, a North Korean Defense Ministry official said at the time that Pyongyang had “never exported weapons or ammunition to Russia before and we will not plan to export them

Load More Related Articles
Load More By RelationsTimes
Load More In World

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Check Also

“Pakistan, Kazakhstan Enhance Ties: Speaker Ayaz Sadiq, Ambassador Kistafin Discuss Cooperation”

  Islamabad, Thursday, 19th April, 2024: Muhammad Daniyal Special Correspondent Daily…