Kim Jong Un is going to Russia to set up an arms deal for Russia’s Ukraine war

Sep 7, 2023 11:14 AM PDT
3 minute read
kim jong-un

Photo by API/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images.


Russian President Vladimir Putin, the U.S. says, is turning to the one place he knows will keep the Russians going: Kim Jong Un.

If the United States is the arsenal of democracy, North Korea is setting itself up to become the arsenal of criminal oligarchies. Despite having a huge manpower force and supposedly unlimited industrial capacity, Russia is unable to keep making weapons to supply its ongoing war in Ukraine. Iran hasn’t been making enough weapons to keep up either. So Russian President Vladimir Putin, the U.S. says, is turning to the one place he knows will keep the Russians going: Kim Jong Un.

South Korean intelligence believes North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un will travel somewhere in Russia to set up the arms deal. No one knows where a meeting might take place, but the U.S. National Security Council knows Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Pyongyang in July in a bid to get ammunition. The New York Times reported a meeting between Kim and Putin could happen as early as this month.

The Kim Family doesn’t leave North Korea often. Although the founder of North Korea, Kim Il Sung, traveled extensively, he was more of a normal communist dictator than his son, Kim Jong Il. Kim Jong Il left North Korea only ten times after taking power, making three visits to Russia and meeting with Putin on two occasions. Kim Jong Un travels mostly to China, but has met former President Donald Trump in Vietnam, Singapore and the Peace House near the Korean Demilitarized Zone.

If Kim does meet with Putin this year, the meeting is widely expected to take place in Vladivostok, in Russia’s Far East. The city has been a formal site for meetings between Russian and North Korean leaders on multiple occasions and was Kim’s first destination in Russia when he visited in 2019. Vladivostok will also be hosting the Eastern Economic Forum in September 2023.

If Kim and the North Korean regime agree to supply arms and ammunition to Russian forces fighting in Ukraine, it would be a violation of U.S. sanctions on North Korea. The United States has taken a hard line on those sanctions since they were implemented and even imposed further sanctions on individuals tied to arms deals made earlier this year between Russia and North Korea.

Photo by API/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images.

Putin and Kim have exchanged letters “pledging to increase their bilateral cooperation,” National Security Council spokesman told reporters. A meeting between the two men would be the third time Russian and North Korean delegations have met in an official capacity. Pyongyang delivered rockets and missiles to Russia for Wagner Group forces earlier this year. If that was a test run, North Korea seems to have passed.

“Under these potential deals Russia would receive significant quantities and multiple types of munitions from the DPRK, which the Russian military plans to use in Ukraine. These potential deals could also include the provision of raw materials that would assist Russia’s defense industrial base,” Kirby added.

The United States will sanction any parties to such a deal. Apart from that, there’s not much else it can do. Iran has also supplied ammunition on top of its infamous drones, while China has provided non-lethal assistance and not much else. Americans don’t believe China will begin producing weapons for Russia anytime soon, but China’s economy is teetering on the brink and nothing brings a boost to lagging numbers like a war.


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