US on alert as Putin meets Kim Jong Un in Russia

Russia has dismissed a warning by the U.S. to North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un not to provide Moscow with weapons for the war in Ukraine when he is expected to meet Vladimir Putin.

Kim is traveling by rail to the far eastern port city of Vladivostok ahead of a meeting between the leaders in which a weapons deal is expected to be finalized. The U.S. has accused Moscow of pursuing “active” talks to buy artillery shells and other munitions from Pyongyang.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters on Monday that 18 months after the start of his full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Putin was “traveling across his own country hat in hand to beg Kim Jong-un for military assistance.”

Vladimir Putin (left) is pictured in Vladivostok on September 11, 2023. He will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
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Miller said it showed that Putin “is having trouble sustaining the military effort and so is looking for help from North Korea” and that the U.S. will “monitor very closely the outcome of this meeting.”

“I will remind both countries that any transfer of arms from North Korea to Russia would be in violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions,” Miller said.

He added that the U.S. would continue to enforce sanctions on those funding Putin’s war effort and “will not hesitate to impose new sanctions if appropriate.”

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov dismissed warnings from the U.S. about arms deals as he confirmed Kim had arrived in Russia on Tuesday. “The interests of our two countries are important to us, and not warnings from Washington,” he said.

Newsweek has contacted the Russian foreign ministry by email for comment.

Kim rarely travels abroad and has made just seven trips away from his country and twice stepped across the inter-Korean border in his 12 years in power, Reuters reported. Four of those trips were to Pyongyang’s main ally, China.

The news agency also reported that Kim might be accompanied by defense and economic officials which suggests that the North Korean leader wants to discuss economic cooperation and food aid in exchange for weapons.

On Tuesday, Putin welcomed guests at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok that runs until Wednesday. His first meeting with Kim was held in the city in 2019.

During his speech attended by politicians and business leaders, he reiterated his vision of a pivot away from the current global order as he touted an increase in trade between Russia and Asia.

“We see how the global economy has changed and continues to change,” he said according to a transcript on the Kremlin website. Putin criticized how “some countries, primarily Western ones…are destroying the system of financial, trade, and economic relations they themselves created.”

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