Kim Jong-un Has Something Putin Needs, and That’s …

When North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, visited President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia four years ago, it was mostly for diplomatic show.

But this week he will visit Mr. Putin a second time with the ability to supply something the Kremlin desperately needs: munitions that could help Russian forces fighting in Ukraine.

The meeting, announced by both governments, comes as Mr. Putin is courting support for his standoff against the United States and NATO from other leaders opposed to Western dominance. Some, like Iran, have provided direct military assistance to Russia for its war in Ukraine, while others, like India, have resolutely declined to condemn Russian aggression.

In a brief statement, the Kremlin said Mr. Kim would “pay an official visit to the Russian Federation in the coming days” at Mr. Putin’s invitation. On Tuesday, North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said that Mr. Kim had left Pyongyang, the capital, for Russia by train on Sunday. Photos showed that he was accompanied by the North’s foreign minister and its two highest-ranking military commanders.

Mr. Kim and Mr. Putin are expected to meet in the eastern port city of Vladivostok, where Mr. Putin is attending an economic forum this week.

Mr. Kim used his preferred method of travel during his rare trips out of North Korea, a slow-moving armored train. South Korean officials said on Tuesday that his train had crossed the border into Russia.

Mr. Kim and Mr. Putin are expected to discuss military cooperation between their countries, including the possibility of North Korea supplying Russia with more weapons for the war in Ukraine, U.S. and allied officials told The New York Times last week. Since 2022, U.S. officials have repeatedly said that North Korea has been shipping artillery shells and rockets to Russia.

North Korea is one of the most heavily militarized countries in the world, one that analysts believe has a surplus of ammunition, since it has not fought a war since 1953.


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