Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin Meet Amidst Growing Arms Deal Speculation

North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin have convened for a summit in Russia’s Far East, raising speculations about potential munitions supply to aid Russia’s ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin met on Wednesday at a location in Russia’s Far East for a highly anticipated summit, as reported by Russian state media. The world is closely observing these talks for any signs that Kim might agree to provide the munitions required by the Kremlin for its involvement in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Both Kim and Putin have faced international isolation, with strained relations with Western nations. However, the prolonged duration of Putin’s invasion in Ukraine, now spanning nearly 19 months, has increased the importance of Kim’s potential support to the Russian leader. North Korea stands out as one of the few nations willing to supply Russia with weapons during this conflict.

According to the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, the two leaders arrived at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, a space launch center in Russia’s far eastern Amur region, on Wednesday morning, where they exchanged greetings with a handshake.

Putin noted that the summit was being hosted at the cosmodrome because Kim had expressed significant interest in rocket technology, as reported by RIA journalists on Telegram.

Kim arrived in Russia from North Korea on Tuesday, completing a multi-day journey aboard his armored train. North Korean news media stated that he had left Pyongyang on Sunday afternoon. The Kremlin confirmed Kim’s arrival in Russia on Tuesday, with state media sharing video footage of his welcome by a Russian official at a location identified as Khasan, situated just over the northeastern border of North Korea.

Despite facing international sanctions and domestic economic challenges, North Korea maintains one of the world’s largest standing armies and possesses a robust defense industry.

On Tuesday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov mentioned that the two leaders would discuss trade and economic relations, hinting at undisclosed cooperation in “certain sensitive spheres that should not be publicly disclosed or announced,” according to Tass.

Kim has previously visited North Korean munitions factories, urging them to expedite the production of multiple rocket launchers, sniper rifles, drones, and missiles, as reported by the country’s state media. North Korea also boasts one of the world’s largest fleets of tanks, although most are Soviet-era models. However, given Russia’s ongoing efforts to defend against a counteroffensive in Ukraine, there is an urgent need to replenish its depleted arsenals with tanks and artillery, as indicated by military experts.

North Korea is interested in obtaining Russian components for its Soviet-era military and civilian aircraft, as well as seeking assistance for its nuclear and missile programs.