North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was in Russia on a rare overseas tour ahead of a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, prompting warnings from Washington about a potential weaponry sale for Moscow’s war in Ukraine.
North Korean state media photographs showed an unsmiling Kim waving from the doorway of his heavily-armored private train with green-and-gold livery as it exited Pyongyang station on Sunday evening, wearing a black suit and escorted by uniformed defense officers.
Ria Novosti, Russia’s state news agency, verified Kim’s train had crossed into the Primorsky area, with photographs showing a train with dark green carriages being carried down a track by a Russian Railways locomotive.
Kim and Putin will meet in the Far East later this week, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, according to Ria Novosti. The two could meet on the fringes of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, the Far East city closest to the North Korean-Russian border.
The forum will be open till Wednesday. According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the two presidents will discuss “sensitive” issues.
Experts predict that Moscow will demand artillery shells and anti-tank missiles from North Korea in exchange for advanced satellite and nuclear-powered submarine technology.
Both Moscow and Pyongyang have denied that North Korea has or will deliver arms to Russia, which has depleted its massive stockpiles of munitions since its invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.
Kim hasn’t made any trips outside of the North since the coronavirus pandemic began. His most recent proper abroad travel was to Russia in 2019, where he met with Putin.
The White House recently warned Pyongyang that it would “pay a price” if it supplied Moscow with weapons for its Ukrainian war.
The US branded Putin’s pursuit of a meeting with Kim as desperate.