Reports suggest that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin sometime this month, in hopes of agreeing to an arms deal.
The agreement will see North Korea bolster Russia’s firepower to sustain the ongoing campaign against Ukraine. It is also projected to improve North Korea’s influence and alliance between the countries.
According to reports mentioned by unnamed sources and allies of US officials, Kim and Putin are expected to meet in the Russian city of Vladivostok, where the annual Eastern Economic Forum will take place from September 10 to 13. The event looks to invite investment groups to Russia, which includes surveying potential economic opportunities in the region.
More importantly, the scheduled meeting of the leaders will include discussions about reinforcing countermeasures against their common adversary, the United States.
Travelling by train
The same reports from US allies suggest that Kim will travel via an armoured train to Vladivostok. The infamous green-and-yellow locomotive has been around since the Kim family came to rule in North Korea and has since passed through their neighbouring and allied country, China, several times. One of these trips would be the last for former and late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, as he died in a heart attack inside its carriage back in 2011.
According to media reports from South Korea, the security when travelling with these trains is remarkable. The locomotives travel in threes, one train in advance to secure the rails, the second carrying the North Korean leader and his advisers and entourage, and the last for his guests. Since then, the trains have received the presence of prominent world leaders with Kim, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, former US President Donald Trump, and Putin himself.
Housed inside these trains are cutting-edge communication equipment and flat-screen monitors for Kim to receive briefings, as well as issuing directives while in transit. It will take around 20 hours for Kim to travel from the North Korean capital of Pyongyang to the coastal city of Vladivostok through the locomotive. It would also be the first foreign trip that leader Kim will make since the pandemic in early 2020.
Bread and bullets
The Times reported that Putin requires substantial caches of munitions and other weaponry from their meeting with North Korea to sustain pressure in Ukraine, now in its 18th month. Of particular interest to the Russian president are artillery shells and guided missiles. This is to ensure that his army can contain Ukraine’s defence consisting of heavily armoured tanks positioned on its coasts.
The Russians have been suffering losses during the war, especially after securing a key village on the southern Zaporizhzhia front, according to the Kyiv Government. In addition, Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar says that the liberation of Robotyne brought their army into contact with Russia’s defences near the Sea of Azov.
As for the North Korean end of the deal, Kim hopes to secure advanced nuclear weapons and satellite technology from Putin to defend against high-powered submarines. Apart from the sophisticated defence systems, Kim looks to secure food provisions from their ally to alleviate North Korea’s progressing food shortages.
White House officials refused to comment on The Times report but disclosed that they are observing the advancements between the once-allies from the former U.S.S.R. bloc closely.
Furthermore, US intelligence networks between the two countries are also ramping up their efforts to impede the delivery of arms and munitions from Pyongyang to Russia, according to a statement from White House spokesman John Kirby.