North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is preparing for an impending visit to Russia, upon an invitation from Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin announced. This visit is scheduled “in the coming days,” and it was first highlighted when South Korean broadcaster YTN reported Kim’s progression towards the northeastern border of North Korea, which is adjacent to Russia.
The Russian President’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov indicated that during the visit Kim and Putin will engage in discussions in the presence of respective country delegations. They may also have a private dialogue if the situation demands. Interestingly, this anticipated meeting isn’t sudden, as the New York Times earlier this month mentioned a possible dialogue between Kim and Putin regarding extended military collaboration.
Recalling their last rendezvous in 2019 in Vladivostok, their conversation revolved around denuclearization, the overall state of affairs on the Korean Peninsula, and several bilateral matters. Furthermore, this planned meeting comes on the heels of an unexpected July visit by the Russian Defense Minister, Sergey Shoigu, to Pyongyang. During this visit, both leaders attended a parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Korean War’s conclusion. Shoigu also proposed conducting combined military exercises.
Adding to the region’s intensifying atmosphere, the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed concern regarding the escalating tensions and hostile rhetoric that’s been exchanged, especially among North Korea, the US, South Korea, and Japan. Events in recent times include North Korean missile launches and substantial US-South Korean military drills.
Georgy Zinoviev, head of the Foreign Ministry’s First Asia Department, recently drew attention to some military actions like the appearance of the American Kentucky submarine, which has nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, in South Korean waters for the first time since 1981. He mentioned that the ongoing US-South Korea-Japan missile defense drills seem to be more than just defensive and seemingly have anti-Russian and anti-Chinese implications. To alleviate these tensions, Zinoviev recommended that the US and its allies suspend their military drills and rethink their approach based on sanctions.
North Korea responded by announcing a “tactical nuclear attack” drill, warning adversaries of the genuine threat of a nuclear war. The defense minister, General Kang Sun-nam, forewarned that a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula seems unavoidable. This nuclear simulation was a direct response to the US-South Korea Ulchi Freedom Shield 23 exercises, which included an American B-1B nuclear-capable strategic bomber.
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