North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is believed to have crossed in Russia on his armored private train, South Korea’s defense ministry said on Tuesday, amid warnings from Washington against North Korea engaging in an arms deal with Russia.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there would be negotiations involving two delegations, and if needed, the leaders would engage in a “one-on-one format.”
On Monday, Mr. Putin arrived in Russia’s far eastern city of Vladivostok to attend the 2023 Eastern Economic Forum, which is slated to wrap up on Sept. 13.
Neither nation has disclosed information about the purpose of their meeting. U.S. officials believe discussions about a potential arms deal will likely occur during Mr. Kim’s visit.
The United States has urged North Korea not to sell weapons to Russia that could be used against Ukraine.
The North Korean and Russian leaders last met in April 2019, during which Mr. Kim also made the 20-hour train ride to Vladivostok, roughly 300 miles from the North Korean border.
North Korea Will ‘Pay a Price’
National security advisor Jake Sullivan earlier warned that North Korea will “pay a price” if it supplies weapons to Russia.
Mr. Sullivan said that Moscow is seeking support from North Korea because “we have continued to squeeze Russia’s defense industrial base, and they are now going about looking to whatever source they can find for things like artillery ammunition.”
Providing Russia with weapons for its ongoing war against Ukraine “is not going to reflect well on North Korea, and they will pay a price for this in the international community,” the U.S. official added.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said last month that any arms deal between the two countries would directly violate United Nations Security Council resolutions.
North Korea has been subject to U.N. sanctions since 2006 over its weapons of mass destruction program.
North Korea, Russia Ties
Mr. Kim’s visit to Russia follows a Russian defense official’s visit to North Korea in late July. Russian Defense Minister Gen. Sergei Shoigu visited Pyongyang on July 27 to attend a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the cessation of the Korean War. He was joined by Chinese Communist Party politburo member Li Hongzhong.
The visit was the first known visit to North Korea by a Russian defense minister since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
When asked about the alleged proposal on Sept. 4, Mr. Shoigu didn’t confirm making such a proposal to Mr. Kim but said that the two countries are discussing possible joint military drills.
“Why not? These are our neighbors. There’s an old Russian saying: You don’t choose your neighbors, and it’s better to live with your neighbors in peace and harmony,” he told Russian media outlet Interfax.
Russia’s ambassador to North Korea, Alexander Matsegora, told Russia’s state news agency TASS that he was not aware of any plans for North Korea to participate in trilateral military drills with China and Russia but that, in his opinion, it would be “appropriate” in light of U.S.-led exercises in the region.
Adam Morrow contributed to this report.