North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expects to meet with President Vladimir Putin in Russia to discuss providing arms to Moscow for its war in Ukraine, the United States said Monday.
The announcement comes after the White House last week warned that Russia was already in secret, active talks with the North to acquire a range of munitions and supplies for Moscow’s war effort.
“As we have warned publicly, arms negotiations between Russia and the DPRK are actively advancing,” National Security Council (NSC) spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said, using an acronym for the North.
“We have information that Kim Jong Un expects these discussions to continue, to include leader-level diplomatic engagement in Russia”.
Kim — who rarely travels outside his country — is likely to head later this month to Vladivostok, on Russia’s Pacific coast not far from North Korea, to meet with Putin, according to The New York Times.
The paper said Kim could even travel to Moscow, but that was uncertain.
NSC spokesman John Kirby said last week that despite its denials, North Korea supplied infantry rockets and missiles to Russia in 2022 for use by the privately controlled Wagner military group.
Meanwhile, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu travelled last month to North Korea seeking to acquire additional munitions for the war, Watson added.
“We urge the DPRK to cease its arms negotiations with Russia and abide by the public commitments that Pyongyang has made to not provide or sell arms to Russia,” Watson said.
Last week at the United Nations, the United States, Britain, South Korea and Japan said in a joint statement that any deal to increase bilateral cooperation between Russia and North Korea would violate Security Council resolutions forbidding arms deals with Pyongyang — resolutions that Moscow itself had endorsed.
They said that following Shoigu’s visit to Pyongyang, another group of Russian officials travelled to North Korea for follow-up talks on arms purchases.
Any talks between Kim and Putin would come as Ukraine carries out a highly scrutinised counteroffensive in the south and east of the country, which Putin on Monday claimed was being unsuccessful.
“It is not that it is stalling. It is a failure,” Putin said Monday. “At least today this is what it looks like. Let’s see what happens next.”
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov on Monday announced he had handed in his resignation to parliament after President Volodymyr Zelensky called for “new approaches” to face Russia’s offensive.