Moscow is shrugging of recent accusations from the Biden administration that it is getting weapons from North Korea and its international ‘pariah’ leader Kim Jong Un. Instead, both countries are apparently set to forge greater defense ties, as the US government is now alleging Kim might soon travel to Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin for a potential major weapons deal.
The US National Security Council issued a statement Monday warning that such arms negotiations between Russia and North Korea are “actively advancing” – so clearly they are thumbing their noses at Washington in the face of threats.
This comes on the heels of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s July trip to Pyongyang, where he and his delegation met with his North Korean counterpart and top officials, and were on hand to observe 70th anniversary celebrations of the end of the Korean War, referred to in the north as “Victory Day”.
“We have information that Kim Jong Un expects these discussions to continue, to include leader-level diplomatic engagement in Russia,” NSC spokesperson, Adrienne Watson, said in a fresh statement. There was no indication of timeline or location for the meeting from the NSC comments.
During Shoigu’s July visit, North Korea’s Defense Minister, Kang Sun Nam, reportedly said his government fully supports Russia’s “battle for justice” and protection of its sovereignty, but there was no indication that Kim himself invoked the Ukraine conflict directly. Shoigu had reportedly at the time praised the north’s army as among the world’s “strongest”.
Both countries remain in US crosshairs and under far-reaching sanctions. Shoigu’s visit had indeed likely kick-started serious dialogue, given it marked the first visit by a Russian defense ministry to North Korea since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. So the next step may very well be an ultra-provocative Kim trip to Moscow.
Last week top White House NSC official John Kirby predicted, “Following these negotiations, high-level discussions may continue in coming months.” That’s also when the NSC first alleged that the two sides are negotiating over “significant quantities and multiple types” of weapons to use in Ukraine.
The Kremlin has yet to confirm any potential talks or deal for weapons…
The Kremlin has “nothing to say” about reports North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will meet Vladimir Putin in Russia next week. So, while we wait for the Russian authorities to say something, here’s our report on Kim’s 2019 visit to Vladivostok. Thanks to @mattgodtv @BBCWillVernon pic.twitter.com/Yg63yM71Ix
— Steve Rosenberg (@BBCSteveR) September 5, 2023
Washington has over the course of the Ukraine conflict at various points accused North Korea of supplying the Russian military with additional artillery ammo. US intelligence has in the recent past alleged that train shipments between the two countries included covert ammo supplies, but something which has not been proven.
The two countries actually share a small border. More recently, there have been accusations that Wagner Group, which is now on the outs with Moscow in the wake of the mutiny in June and after Yevgeny Prigozhin’s death, purchased large quantities of arms and equipment from the Kim Jong-Un government.