In a rare meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Western nations have voiced concerns over the possibility of an impending arms deal.
Both the United States and the United Kingdom have raised alarm bells, suspecting that Kim could potentially supply weapons and ammunition to Russia, which has depleted significant military reserves during the ongoing 18-month conflict in Ukraine. Moscow and Pyongyang have both denied any such intentions.
The U.S. Department of State made its stance clear, asserting that President Joe Biden’s administration would not hesitate to impose additional sanctions on Russia and North Korea if they were to finalize any new arms agreements.
State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller delivered this warning during a briefing regarding the meeting between Putin and Kim in Russia, emphasizing the actions already taken to sanction entities involved in brokering arms sales between the two nations. He stressed that further actions could follow if deemed appropriate.
Miller expressed deep concern over the discussions between Russia and North Korea, which appeared to involve increased cooperation that potentially violated multiple UN Security Council resolutions.
James O’Brien, head of the Office of Sanctions Coordination, stated that such a deal would prompt the U.S. to identify individuals and financial mechanisms involved, with the aim of limiting their effectiveness. He noted Russia’s growing desperation for military support, citing its engagement with a nation under UN sanctions as a concerning development for Russia’s global standing.
During the lengthy meeting held at Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome, Putin showcased the advanced space rocket launch site and explored the possibility of sending a North Korean cosmonaut into space. Kim, who arrived by train, showed great interest in rocket-related discussions.
The United Kingdom also chimed in, urging North Korea to cease its arms negotiations with Russia and highlighting Putin’s increasing isolation on the global stage amid international unity against Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
While Putin hinted at military cooperation, he divulged few specifics, and the Kremlin maintained that sensitive discussions between neighbors remained private.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres underscored the importance of respecting sanctions regimes when cooperating with North Korea, particularly in the case of Russia’s engagement with the country.
The meeting between Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin held significance, as it marked Kim’s first meeting with a foreign leader since the pandemic. Observers noted that North Korea’s public support for Russia’s actions in Ukraine signaled a closer alliance between the two nations against imperialism.
During their lunch, the leaders addressed each other as “comrades,” with Putin highlighting the historical support of the Soviet Union for North Korea, recognizing its establishment over 75 years ago.
Russia, along with China, opposed new sanctions on North Korea, creating a public divide within the UN Security Council. Putin emphasized that Russia adhered to international rules while suggesting opportunities for further exploration in terms of military cooperation.