Russia dismissed warnings from the White House on Monday that any arms deal between Moscow and North Korea would trigger immediate further sanctions.
The White House has warned in recent weeks that arms negotiations between North Korea and Russia have been “actively advancing,” saying Moscow aims to buy weaponry from Pyongyang for use in the Ukraine war.
U.S. officials are sure that those arms talks will continue when North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in the coming days in Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East.
The U.S. repeated warnings to North Korea on Monday not to send arms to Russia, reiterating that any arms deal or military support for Russia’s war in Ukraine would directly violate a number of U.N. Security Council resolutions, such as the prohibition of all weapons trade with the country. It said it’s ready to impose more sanctions against North Korea if there is a deal.
The Kremlin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov dismissed the U.S.’ warnings, however, telling reporters that Moscow and Pyongyang are guided by the interests of bilateral relations and are not interested in “warnings from Washington,” state news agency Tass reported Tuesday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held talks in 2019.
Alexander Zemlianichenko | Afp | Getty Images
“As you know, after all, realizing our relations with our neighbors, including North Korea, the interests of our two countries are important for us, and not warnings from Washington. It is the interests of our two countries that we will focus on,” Peskov said.
He noted that the Russian Federation is ready, if necessary, to discuss with the DPRK issues related to the sanctions of the UN Security Council.”
Peskov said the leaders would discuss issues of bilateral cooperation between Russia and Pyongyang as well as international affairs and “sensitive areas,” without giving further detail.
“First of all, of course, issues related to bilateral relations, bilateral cooperation, trade and economic ties, cultural exchanges will be discussed. Of course, there will be a rich exchange of views on the situation in the region and on international affairs in general, because this is of interest both to Putin and to our guest from Pyongyang,” Tass reported Peskov as saying.
— Holly Ellyatt
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Russia’s Far East on Tuesday morning, the Kremlin confirmed Tuesday.
Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov confirmed the arrival, Interfax news agency reported.
Kim travelled to Russia on an armored train for a one-to-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin which could take place today or tomorrow. The location of the meeting has not been revealed. That comes as the Eastern Economic Forum takes place in Vladivostok, 80 miles from Russia’s border with North Korea.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves before boarding his train to depart for North Korea at Dong Dang railway station, Vietnam, on March 2, 2019.
KCNA | Reuters
The Rossiya-1 TV channel showed footage of Kim’s train arriving after a journey shrouded in secrecy. Interfax news agency reported that the train crossed the Khasan station, on the border with North Korea, in “an atmosphere of absolute secrecy” on Tuesday morning.
Kim left for Russia by train on Sunday, the North Korean news agency KCNA reported, adding that representatives of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, as well as North Korean military leaders, are also traveling to Russia with Kim.
The two leaders are expected to discuss bilateral cooperation as well as arms, Western intelligence claims, as Russia looks to its allies for military equipment to prosecute its war in Ukraine. North Korea and Russia deny the claims.
— Holly Ellyatt
The U.S. is set to impose new sanctions against North Korea if the country ships arms to Russia, a State Department spokesperson said Monday.
Any shipment of weapons from North Korea to Russia would violate multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said during a briefing.
“We of course have aggressively enforced our sanctions against entities that fund Russia’s war effort and we will continue to enforce those sanctions and will not hesitate to impose new sanctions, if appropriate,” Miller said.
“We have always looked to impose sanctions and hold accountable countries or entities that support Russia’s war effort,” he said.
The U.S. warning comes as North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is set to visit Russia this week. North Korean state media said Kim will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin during his visit.
U.S. officials say Pyongyang and Moscow have discussed a potential arms deal and those talks may continue when Kim visits Russia.
“We are going to monitor very closely the outcome of this meeting,” Miller said.
— Spencer Kimball
A spokesperson from the U.S. National Security Council urged North Korea to hold up its agreement to not sell or provide arms to Russia as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly travels to the country.
“As we have warned publicly, arms discussions between Russia and the DPRK are expected to continue during Kim Jong-Un’s trip to Russia. We urge the DPRK to abide by the public commitments that Pyongyang has made to not provide or sell arms to Russia,” NSC Spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement, as reported by NBC News.
The Council has already said it is “concerned” about arms discussions between North Korea and Russia, with John Kirby, assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, having said on Aug. 30 that new information suggested arms negotiations between the two countries were “actively advancing.”
— Hannah Ward-Glenton
The Kremlin said that North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un will visit Russia this week, having previously denied any meeting would take place.
Speculation had been mounting that a meeting between Kim and Putin would take place on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok.
Pyongyang and the Kremlin had denied this, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying earlier this morning that there were no plans for a meeting.
A few hours later, however, the Kremlin issued a statement saying: “At the invitation of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, Chairman of State Affairs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Kim Jong-un will pay an official visit to the Russian Federation in the coming days.”
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves as he prepares to leave Vietnam by train after a two day official visit preceded by the DPRK-USA Hanoi summit, on March 2, 2019 in Dong Dang, Vietnam.
Carl Court | Getty Images News | Getty Images
A North Korean train presumably carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has departed for Russia for a possible meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, South Korean media said Monday.
Citing unidentified South Korean government sources, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported that the train likely left the North Korean capital of Pyongyang on Sunday evening and that a Kim-Putin meeting is possible as early as Tuesday.
A file photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin meets North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un on April 25, 2019 in Vladivostok, Russia.
Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images News | Getty Images
The Yonhap news agency and some other media published similar reports. South Korea’s National Intelligence Service didn’t immediately confirm those details.
U.S. officials released intelligence last week that North Korea and Russia were arranging a meeting between their leaders that would take place within this month as they expand their cooperation in the face of deepening confrontations with the United States.
According to U.S. officials, Putin could focus on securing more supplies of North Korean artillery and other ammunition to refill draining reserves and put further pressure on the West to pursue negotiations amid concerns about a protracted conflict in Ukraine.
In exchange, Kim could seek badly needed energy and food aid and advanced weapons technologies, including those related to intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear-capable ballistic missile submarines and military reconnaissance satellites, analysts say.
There are concerns that potential Russian technology transfers would increase the threat posed by Kim’s growing arsenal of nuclear weapons and missiles that are designed to target the United States, South Korea, and Japan.
— Associated Press