Russia's Putin to visit Pyongyang at Kim Jong Un's invitation
Russian President Vladimir Putin is readying to go to North Korea on Tuesday for his first trip to the country in 24 years. The Russian leader is set to visit the isolated nation for two days at the invitation of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, state-run Korean Central News Agency said. The talks are expected to focus on expanding military cooperation between the countries as both remain in the middle of separate intensifying confrontations with the West. Military, economic and other types of cooperation between North Korea and Russia sharply increased since the North Korean leader met Putin in the Russian far east last September, in their first meeting since 2019. US and South Korean officials have accused Pyongyang of providing Russia with artillery, missiles and other military equipment to help prolong its fighting in Ukraine, possibly in return for key military technologies and aid. Both Pyongyang and Moscow have denied the accusations, which would be in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. The Kremlin has previously said it “highly appreciates” Pyongyang's support for Russia's military action in Ukraine and mentioned its “close and fruitful cooperation” at the UN and other international organisations. Russia and China have repeatedly blocked the US and its partners' attempts to impose fresh UN sanctions on North Korea over its barrage of banned ballistic missile tests. Andrei Lankov, an expert on North Korea at Kookmin University in Seoul, noted that in exchange for providing artillery munitions and short-range ballistic missiles, Pyongyang hopes to get higher-end weapons from Moscow. Lankov noted that while Russia could be reluctant to share its state-of-the-art military technologies with North Korea, it's eager to receive munitions from Pyongyang. “There is never enough ammunition in a war, there is a great demand for them,” Lankov said.