Kim Jong Un Heads for Russia to Help Putin With Weapons for Ukraine

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un left Pyongyang Monday on his late father’s armored train for a previously unannounced summit with President Vladimir Putin, his first trip abroad since before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Kremlin boss hopes to use the meeting, in Vladivostok on Tuesday or Wednesday, to persuade Kim to step up arms sales to bolster his illegal invasion of Ukraine. With domestic production hit by international sanctions, Russian army chiefs are especially keen to get their hands on North Korea’s huge stockpile of 152-mm ammo shells—conveniently based on old Soviet designs—to complement drone supplies from Iran.

Kim last visited Vladivostok, 4,000 miles east of Moscow but just 75 miles from North Korea’s tiny land border with Russia, in April 2019 for a formal summit that saw the eastern port city adorned with North Korean flags with their distinctive five-pointed stars.

That was Kim’s last proper foreign trip–although he did meet with then-President Donald Trump in the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas in June 2019.

Kim’s departure on the train built for his father, Kim Jong Il, was reported by various South Korean media organizations, citing Seoul government sources. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov later confirmed Kim’s state visit, saying there would be formal meetings between the two delegations “and, if necessary, a one-on-one meeting.”

Reuters reported an extra police presence in Vladivostok, but said no extra national flags were on display. “Both countries show teeth to the whole world and can stand for themselves. So, there is something in common,” a Vladivostok resident named only as Fyodor told the news agency.

Putin arrived in Vladivostok Monday to attend the Eastern Economic Forum, according to Russia’s RIA News.


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