Kim Jong-un visits Russia, to meet Putin
US meddling of Northeast Asia security only pulls N.Korea, Russia closer: experts
Published: Sep 12, 2023 07:57 PM Updated: Sep 12, 2023 10:00 PM
Russia and North Korea Photo: VCG

Russia and North Korea Photo: VCG

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has left Pyongyang to visit Russia, the country's official news agency disclosed on Tuesday. Chinese experts believe Kim's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin is primarily to strengthen the bilateral relationship and offset impact of Western isolation against the two countries. 

Kim left Pyongyang by train on Sunday afternoon to visit the Russian Federation, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Tuesday.

Russia's TASS news agency reported late on Tuedsday that Russian Natural Resources and Environment Minister Alexander Kozlov has received North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the Khasan station in the Primorye Region, the ministry said in a statement.

The Tass agency cited Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov as saying earlier on Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to meet with Kim for talks within the next few days.

"We are not telling yet [where talks will take place]. In the Far East," he said, adding that the talks will be held between the two delegations as well as in a one-on-one format, followed by an official dinner. according to the Kremlin official, there is no press conference in the works.

Bilateral relations will be a matter of priority during the talks, Peskov said. "The DPRK is our neighbor. Of course, like with any other neighbor, we regard it as our duty to build good, mutually beneficial relations. That's what we do, and what President Putin does very consistently," Peskov said.

When asked about China's comment on a meeting between Kim and Putin, Mao Ning, spokesperson of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Tuesday that the North Korean leader's visit to Russia is an arrangement between the two countries.

Both North Korea and Russia are facing unprecedented diplomatic pressure from the West at the moment, thus strengthening their bilateral relations will be top of the agenda when the two leaders meet, as it will help to offset some of the negative impact of Western isolation, Yang Jin, an associate research fellow at the Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

He noted a strong Russia-North Korea relationship could offer both more chips in the geopolitical equation in Northeast Asia, especially when the security situation in the region is becoming more sensitive by the day. 

The US and its Asian allies are watching the meeting with concern. On Monday, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said: "I will remind both countries that any transfer of arms from North Korea to Russia would be in violation of multiple UN security council resolutions."

Last week, the US warned that North Korea would "pay a price" for supplying Russia with weapons to use in Ukraine, saying that arms negotiations between the two countries were actively advancing.

South Korean Defense Ministry spokesperson Jeon Ha-kyu also said last week that the ministry is closely monitoring whether North Korea and Russia will proceed with negotiations on an arms deal and technology transfer.

Yang believes the US' threats suggest the West's mounting fear about the possibility of Russia obtaining military support, thus they resort to pressure from public opinion to coerce North Korea into not supplying arms. 

Observers believe Russia's weapons stockpile is not exhausted yet. Speaking at a meeting with the moderators of key sessions at the 8th Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, on Tuesday, Putin said arms using new physical principles will ensure security in the near historic perspective and Russian authorities realize this.

Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, said that US sanctions have only pulled North Korea and Russia closer and even spurred them to forge a strategic alliance. 

Song noted military cooperation is likely to be included in the meeting, as both countries' military strengths are complimentary. "In terms of technology, Russia can help North Korea. In return, Pyongyang is able to help push Moscow's capacity for producing ammunition and arms." 

Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, described the US' anxiety over a deeper alliance between Russia and North Korea as "reaping what one has sown," as such closer cooperation is a result of frequent South Korea-US military exercises, which have created more divisions in Northeast Asia.

Last month, the US and South Korea conducted a joint large-scale military exercise aimed at bolstering their defense and preparedness against North Korea. The annual Ulchi Freedom Shield exercise, which lasted for 11 days, included about 30 field training events based on an all-out war scenario, according to an official from South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff. The number of drills this year exceeded those in previous joint military exercises, media reported.