The confirmed meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin has significant geopolitical implications. According to South Korean media, Kim departed Pyongyang on a specially arranged train, and the Kremlin has confirmed that this visit is in response to Putin’s invitation. They are scheduled to meet in Vladivostok, situated in the far eastern region of Russia.
This meeting holds substantial significance, as it marks a continuation of diplomatic interactions between Kim and Putin, with their first meeting occurring in 2019 in the same city. Analysts widely speculate that their discussions may revolve around military collaboration and potential arms supply agreements to Russia, which could have far-reaching consequences.
The United States has expressed deep concern over the possibility of North Korea supplying weapons to Russia for use in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Washington has strongly emphasized that such a move by Pyongyang would be a grave mistake and would come with severe repercussions.
Ramon Pacheco Pardo, the Head of Korea Studies at the Brussels School of Governance, believes that the growing rapport between Kim and Putin sends a signal of further division in the international response to the Ukrainian conflict. Pardo asserts that North Korea’s support for Russia could potentially prolong the war, which is seen as detrimental to Europe. This divergence in international stances underscores the fact that the world’s support for Ukraine differs significantly from the approach taken by the United States and Europe.
As a result, several countries, including North Korea, are openly declaring their support for Russia without fearing potential consequences. North Korea’s military capabilities, with tens of millions of artillery shells and rockets designed during the Soviet era, have the potential to significantly bolster the Russian military.
The potential exchanges between North Korea and Russia may encompass a range of areas, including energy resources, food supplies, and advanced technology, particularly in the realm of intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear submarines with ballistic missile capabilities, and military satellite technology. These transfers of technology could substantially enhance North Korea’s capabilities and pose a heightened threat to countries such as the United States, Japan, and South Korea.
Kim Jong Un is known for his infrequent foreign travels, which are executed discreetly with stringent security measures. His preferred mode of transport is a heavily armored train, distinguished by olive-green carriages equipped with advanced communication systems. Notably, the train also includes a dedicated carriage for Kim to conduct work and hold meetings.
Associated Press reporters located near the North Korean-Russian border have observed the distinctive green train with yellow trim that Kim is using for this overseas visit at a station on the North Korean side. However, it remains unclear whether Kim is actually on board. South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported that Kim’s departure from Pyongyang occurred on Sunday, September 10, 2023, at midnight, with his meeting with Putin scheduled for Tuesday.
In preparation for Kim’s arrival in Russia, there have been reports of heightened security measures and a repainting of the main station in Khasan, a Russian border town serving as Kim’s entry point.
The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs is closely monitoring the developments surrounding Kim’s journey and meeting plans but has refrained from providing further details at this time. This high-profile meeting has garnered significant attention in the international arena, and its outcomes will likely have far-reaching implications for regional and global geopolitics.