On Tuesday, North Korean state media confirmed that Kim Jong Un, the country’s leader, will soon be traveling to Russia for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The summit had been publicly announced by the Kremlin last week.
“Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea, chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and supreme commander of the armed forces of the DPRK, will soon pay a visit to the Russian Federation at the invitation of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, president of the Russian Federation,” the Korean Central News Agency noted.
“They will have talks during the visit,” the North Korean report added. The report did not include details on where the summit would take place or on what dates. Reports suggest that Kim will meet Putin on Russkiy Island near Vladivostok, the largest Russian city in the country’s far east. The Russian Far Eastern Federal University is expected to host the summit.
On April 18, the Kremlin announced the summit. “At Vladimir Putin’s invitation, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Kim Jong-un will pay a visit to the Russian Federation in the second half of April,” it noted.
The summit will likely take place over the next days given that Putin is scheduled to make an address at China’s Belt and Road Forum, which will convene on April 26. According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Putin will visit China starting on Friday.
Following the summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald J. Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam, North Korean state media has focused heavily on the country’s relationship with Russia. Meanwhile, several high-level engagements have taken place between Russian parliamentary and government officials and their North Korean counterparts.
Kim’s summit with Putin will be the first trip by a North Korean leader to Russia since 2011, when Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, visited Moscow. In Vladivostok, Kim and Putin will likely discuss economic cooperation between their two countries and the issue of sanctions. Moscow may favor relief for Pyongyang from United Nations Security Council resolution sanctions.
In November 2018, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov joined China’s Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Kong Xuanyou and North Korean Vice Minister Choe Son Hui in endorsing the adjustment of international sanctions on Pyongyang for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Notably, Kim’s trip to Russia will be his first trip abroad since the Hanoi summit. The North Korean leader is expected to travel by train from Pyongyang to Vladivostok.