Putin Going to North Korea for First Time in 24 Years

Russia needs conventional weapons for its Ukraine war
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 17, 2024 9:05 AM CDT
Updated Jun 18, 2024 1:00 AM CDT
Putin Going to North Korea for First Time in 24 Years
Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea's Kim Jong Un visit military facilities in Russia during Kim's visit in 2023.   (Mikhail Metzel, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Vladimir Putin is going to North Korea this week for the first time in 24 years, reports the BBC. The Russian leader traveled there early in his presidency, and he welcomed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for a visit last year. This reciprocal two-day trip by Putin, which begins on Tuesday, signals the two nations' strengthening relationship.

  • What Russia wants: Putin needs conventional weapons for his war against Ukraine, and North Korea has a good supply, reports the New York Times. Last week, the South China Morning Post reported that North Korea already is believed to have shipped millions of artillery shells to Russia. Russia also needs artillery rockets, short-range missiles, and spare parts for its Soviet-era weapons systems. Putin also may request construction workers and perhaps even frontline fighters.

  • What North Korea wants: Kim seeks Russian help with more advanced military weaponry such as a long-range missiles, as well as more basic needs such as Russian produce and cash. For the record, both nations deny any arms trade is taking place in defiance of UN sanctions, per the Times.
  • The complications: A Bloomberg analysis spells out the ways this growing partnership is trouble for the US and the West. For one thing, the more Russia beefs up its own arsenal, the more help Ukraine will need. At the same time, North Korea will be able to improve its ability to strike Japan and South Korea. It's also possible Moscow and Pyongyang will sign a military intervention pact—promising to act on each other's behalf.
  • What Putin is saying: Hours before his scheduled arrival in North Korea, comments from Putin appeared in an op-ed piece in North Korean state media. The Russian president thanked Pyongyang for supporting his country's actions in Ukraine, and vowed to work with North Korea to overcome US sanctions against the two countries, the AP reports.
This story has been updated with the latest comments from Putin. (More Vladimir Putin stories.)

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