Ukraine war live updates: Moscow and North Korea 'actively advancing' arms deal; Putin blames the West for grain deal collapse

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un shake hands during their meeting in Vladivostok, Russia, Thursday, April 25, 2019.

Alexander Zemlianichenko | Pool | AP

North Korea and Russia look to be forging deeper military and political ties as Moscow’s appetite for weaponry grows amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.

A White House official said Monday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un plans to travel to Russia to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin this month and that arms negotiations between the countries “are actively advancing.

U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson added, in a statement reported Monday, that the White House had “information that Kim Jong Un expects these discussions to continue, to include leader-level diplomatic engagement in Russia.”

The New York Times also reported Monday that Kim Yong Un would likely travel from Pyongyang to Russia’s Pacific Coast city of Vladivostok in an armored train, citing unnamed U.S. and allied sources.

The talks, which could take place on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum, which is scheduled to run from Sept. 10 to 13, would include the possibility of supplying weapons for the war in Ukraine, the newspaper said. CNBC has contacted the Kremlin for further comment and is awaiting a response.

There has been long-standing concern over Russia and North Korea’s deepening ties in the military sphere.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu recently visited Pyongyang for discussions on potential arms deals, the U.S. said last week, and Putin and Kim Jong Un have exchanged letters pledging to increase their cooperation.

On Monday, Shoigu said the possibility of conducting joint exercises with the DPRK, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, is being discussed, news agency TASS reported.

For its part, Pyongyang has said publicly that it does not intend to supply weapons to Russia, although the White House’s National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby noted in a briefing last week that North Korea had delivered infantry rockets and missiles into Russia that were used by the Wagner Group private military company. 

Kirby warned that the U.S. would impose sanctions on any participants in an arms deal.

“We urge the DPRK to cease its arms negotiations with Russia and abide by the public commitments that Pyongyang has made to not provide or sell arms production,” Kirby said, adding:

“And of course, we’ll take action directly by exposing and sanctioning individuals and entities working to facilitate arms deals between these two countries.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) meets Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) in Sochi, Russia on September 04, 2023.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Talks between the Russian and Turkish presidents aimed at reviving a grain export deal with Ukraine ended in failure Monday, with President Vladimir Putin saying the agreement wouldn’t be revived unless obstacles to Russian exports were removed.

“I would like to reaffirm our principled position: we will be ready to consider the possibility of reviving the ‘grain deal’ … and we will do this immediately — as soon as all the agreements on lifting restrictions recorded in it are fully implemented for the export of Russian agricultural products,” Putin said following the talks in Sochi, the Kremlin’s website noted.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative was brokered by the U.N. and Turkey and enabled millions of tons to be exported from several Ukrainian ports against a backdrop of war. Russia abandoned the deal in July, however, having complained that its own agricultural exports faced restrictions due to Western sanctions.

In a press conference following talks with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday, Putin blamed the West for the deal’s collapse, saying Russia had been “forced” to leave the deal as it still faced export restrictions on its own exports.

He also claimed Moscow had been “deceived” regarding “the humanitarian goals” of the deal:

“The West, to put it mildly, deceived us about the humanitarian goals of the “Black Sea Initiative” to provide assistance to developing countries,” he said, claiming instead that the majority of grain exports from Ukraine had gone to wealthy countries mainly in the EU.

At the talks, Russia agreed that it would supply 1 million tons of discounted grain to Turkey for onward export to African countries most in need, with the assistance of Qatar.

— Holly Ellyatt

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is blocking the delivery of long-range Taurus missiles to Ukraine, according to a prominent German lawmaker.

Ukraine has been requesting the Swedish/German-made cruise missiles that have a range of up to 500 kilometers, or 311 miles, for months. However, no decision has been made in Berlin about whether to authorize their supply to Kyiv.

On Monday, the head of the Bundestag Defense Committee and German Free Democratic Party (a member of the governing coalition) Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann blamed Scholz for the delay.

A Taurus long-range air-to-surface missile.

Afp Contributor | Afp | Getty Images

Writing on X, previously known as Twitter, she said Scholz is blocking this decision within the coalition.

“What is the @Bundeskanzler [German Chancellor] waiting for in God’s name? He alone blocks this decision within the coalition. That’s irresponsible,” she wrote, without presenting evidence for her claim.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak is among the Ukrainian officials urging Kyiv’s allies to provide it with more long-range missiles. He has criticized slow-decision making among allies, telling the Bild newspaper that Berlin needed to make “decisions faster and more decisively.”

Ukraine has sought to reassure its partners that such missiles would not be used to strike Russian territory itself but Russian resources being used against it in the war. Germany was criticized previously for its slow decision-making on giving Ukraine Leopard tanks.

CNBC has requested a comment from the German Chancellery and is awaiting a response.

— Holly Ellyatt

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) meets Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) in Sochi, Russia on September 04, 2023.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin is meeting his Turkish counterpart in Sochi Monday with a potential new grain export deal on the agenda.

Ahead of the talks, Putin said Russia’s relations with Turkey were strong and set to diversify, adding that he hoped there would be progress on creating a gas hub in Turkey.

Putin added that security issues would be high on today’s agenda, such as ongoing unrest in Syria, as well as the grain deal.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the grain deal is the focus of talks, adding that Turkey was optimistic a new grain deal could be reached: “I hope we will be able to send a message to the world and Africa today,” he said, according to comments reported by NBC.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukrainian railways have partially restricted cargo shipments to Ukraine’s major Danube River port Izmail, which has been the target of Russian drone attacks in recent weeks, the railways said on Monday.

The restrictions began on Sunday, the railways said in a statement. Russia has attacked Ukrainian ports on the Danube River with drones two nights in a row.

The latest attack on the Danube River port of Izmail, in Ukraine’s southern Odesa region, hit warehouses and production buildings, and debris from drones that were shot down set ablaze several civilian infrastructure buildings, the regional authorities said.

Ukraine said some Russian drones detonated on the opposite bank in Romanian territory. Romania denied this.

The Danube has become Ukraine’s main route for exporting grain since July, when Russia quit a U.N.- and Turkey-brokered deal that had given safe passage to Kyiv’s exports of grains, oilseeds and vegetables oils via the Black Sea.

— Reuters

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