Arrival in Komsomolsk-on-Amur
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has reportedly arrived in the Russian city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur. The news comes amidst heightened diplomatic activity in the region, although the precise purpose and duration of Kim's visit to Russia remain undisclosed.
Invitation to Russian President
During a recent summit, Kim Jong Un extended an invitation to Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit North Korea. This invitation was accepted by Putin, according to the North Korean state news agency KCNA, though there has been no immediate confirmation from the Kremlin. Given the ongoing conflict in Ukraine since Russia's 2022 invasion, Putin's foreign travels have been infrequent.
Defense Cooperation and Missile Technology
The burgeoning friendship between Kim and Putin is causing concern among the United States and its allies. Washington has accused North Korea of providing arms to Russia, a claim that both Russia and North Korea have vehemently denied. However, both nations have promised to deepen their defense cooperation. During a recent visit to North Korea, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was shown banned ballistic missiles by Kim.
Kim Jong Un is scheduled to visit military and civilian aviation factories in the Russian city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur and to inspect Russia's Pacific fleet in Vladivostok. Furthermore, Putin has accepted Kim's invitation to make a reciprocal visit to North Korea in the future, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expected to visit Pyongyang for more talks next month.
Consequences of Arms Supply
The United States has expressed concern over the potential for arms supply between North Korea and Russia. The State Department has stated that the Biden administration will not hesitate to impose additional sanctions if they conclude any new arms deals between the two countries. It is believed that North Korea has a large stockpile of dated artillery shells and rockets that would be compatible with Soviet and Russian weapons systems used in Ukraine, as well as a production capacity that could help Russia maintain its high ammunition burn rate.
Impact on International Relations
The growing closeness between Russia and North Korea raises questions about the future of international relations in the region. The two nations' show of support and camaraderie this week serves as a clear rebuff to U.S-led efforts to isolate Putin over his invasion of Ukraine and Kim over his pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
Kim Jong Un's visit to Russia and the subsequent invitation extended to Putin underscore the evolving dynamics in the region. The potential implications of this burgeoning friendship, particularly in the context of defense cooperation and possible arms supply, are likely to be closely monitored by the international community.