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North Korea’s Kim Jong-un arrives in Russia for talks with Putin as 2 nations draw closer

North Korea's Kim Jong-un arrived in Russia on Tuesday for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin where they are expected to offer each other increased support in their escalating standoffs with the West.

Kim expected to seek Russian economic aid and military technology in exchange for munitions

A heavy set man in a black suit waves from aboard a green rail car.

North Korea's Kim Jong-un arrived in Russia on Tuesday for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin where they are expected to offer each other increased support in their escalating standoffs with the West.

Kim is expected to seek Russian economic aid and military technology in exchange for munitions to be used in Russia's war in Ukraine.

North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency said Kim boarded his personal train bound for Russia on Sunday afternoon, accompanied by members of the ruling party, government and military.

After decades of complicated, hot-and-cold relations, Russia and North Korea have drawn closer since Moscow's invasion of Ukraine in 2022. The bond has been driven by Putin's need for war supplies and Kim's efforts to boost his partnerships with traditional allies Moscow and Beijing as he tries to break out of diplomatic isolation.

South Korea's military assessed the train crossed into Russia early Tuesday, Jeon Ha Gyu, spokesperson of South Korea's Defence Ministry, said without elaborating on how the military obtained the information. Later Tuesday, Russian news agencies quoted Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov as confirming Kim had entered Russia, and reported that his train had crossed the Razdolnaya River, north of Vladivostok.

Officials identified in North Korean state media photos may hint at what Kim might seek from Putin and what he would be willing to give.

Two men are shown in closeup photographs that have been combined.

Kim is apparently accompanied by Jo Chun Ryong, a ruling party official in charge of munitions policies who joined the leader on recent tours of factories producing artillery shells and missiles, said South Korea's Unification Ministry.

North Korea may have tens of millions of artillery shells and rockets based on Soviet designs that could give a huge boost to the Russian army in Ukraine, analysts say.

Also identified in photos were Pak Thae Song, chairman of North Korea's space science and technology committee, and Navy Adm. Kim Myong Sik, who are linked with North Korean efforts to acquire spy satellites and nuclear-capable ballistic missile submarines. Experts say North Korea would struggle to acquire such capabilities without external help, although it's not clear if Russia would share such sensitive technologies.

Kim may seek food aid from Russia

Kim Jong-un may also seek badly needed energy and food supplies, analysts say. Deputy foreign minister Andrei Rudenko said Russia may discuss humanitarian aid with the North Korean delegation, according to Russian news agencies.

Putin arrived in the eastern city of Vladivostok on Monday to attend an international forum that runs through Wednesday, according to Russia's TASS news agency. Putin's first meeting with Kim was held in 2019 in the city, which is about 680 kilometres north of Pyongyang.

Peskov said Putin and Kim will meet after the Vladivostok forum, but the reports didn't specify when or where. He added that the meeting would include a lunch in Kim's honour.

A man in a suit and tie is shown standing in front of a background that contains writing in Russia.

Kim is making his first foreign trip since the pandemic, during which North Korea imposed tight border controls for more than three years.

Lim Soo-suk, South Korea's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said Seoul was maintaining communication with Moscow while closely monitoring Kim's visit.

"No UN member state should violate Security Council sanctions against North Korea by engaging in an illegal trade of arms, and must certainly not engage in military cooperation with North Korea that undermines the peace and stability of the international community," Lim said during a briefing.

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