North Korea’s leader is in Russia to meet Putin, with both locked in standoffs with the West

SEOUL, South Korea (HRNW) — North Korea’s Kim Jong Un rolled into Russia on an armored train Tuesday to see President Vladimir Putin, a rare meeting between isolated leaders driven together by their need for support in escalating standoffs with the West.

Kim is expected to seek economic aid and military technology for his impoverished country, and, in an unusual twist, appears to have something Putin desperately needs: munitions for Russia’s grueling war in Ukraine.

This meeting is a chance for the North Korean leader to get around crippling U.N. sanctions and years of diplomatic isolation. For Putin, it’s an opportunity to refill ammunition stores that the war has drained.

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.

His final destination is uncertain. Many had assumed Kim and Putin would meet in Vladisvostok, a Russian city close to the border where the two leaders had their last meeting in 2019, and which Putin is visiting this week for an economic forum.

But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed only that Kim has entered Russia, and state news agency RIA-Novosti later reported his train had headed north after crossing the Razdolnaya River, taking it away from Vladivostok. The South Korean news agency Yonhap later published a photo it said showed the train in Ussuriysk, a city about 60 kilometers (about 40 miles) north of Vladivostok that has a sizable ethnic Korean population.