The Kremlin said Tuesday it had “nothing to say” about US officials’ claims that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un plans to travel to Russia this month to meet President Vladimir Putin and discuss weapons supplies to Moscow for an attack on Ukraine. .
US National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said Monday that arms talks between Russia and North Korea were making active progress.
His comments came after the New York Times quoted unnamed US officials and allies as saying Kim plans to travel to Russia as soon as next week to meet Putin There’s nothing to say.”
As Russia’s isolation from the war in Ukraine has intensified, analysts say this shows increasing value in North Korea.
For North Korea, relations with Russia have not always been as warm as they were in the heyday of the Soviet Union, but now the country is benefiting markedly from Moscow’s need for friendship.
Moscow and Pyongyang have denied previous US accusations that North Korea has provided weapons to Russia, but both countries vowed to enhance defense cooperation.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who visited Pyongyang in July for an exhibition of weapons including North Korea’s banned ballistic missiles, said Monday that the two countries were discussing the possibility of joint military exercises.
“Just as you can tell a person from their friends, you can tell a country by the friendships they have,” says Keir Giles, Senior Consulting Fellow in the Russia & Eurasia Program at Chatham House.
Kim Jong Un’s Journey
The trip will be Kim’s first overseas visit in more than four years and his first since the coronavirus pandemic.
Although he traveled more overseas than his father as leader, Kim’s travels were often shroud in secrecy and tight security. In contrast to his father who is said to be averse to flying, Kim has flown his private Russian-built jet for some of his trips, but US officials have told the Times that he may take an armore train across the land border between North Korea and Russia.
Kim may want to stress Russia’s sense of support, and may seek a deal on arms sales, aid and sending workers to Russia, said Andrei Lankov, a North Korea expert at Seoul’s Kookmin University.
The United States recently imposed sanctions on three entities it accuses of being link to an arms deal between North Korea and Russia.
Russia has joined China in opposing new sanctions on North Korea, thwarting a US-led push and openly breaking up the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the first time since it began punishing Pyongyang in 2006.