Russia-Ukraine War: Kim and Putin Discuss Deepening Ties as Ukraine War Looms Over Summit

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia welcomed the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, to a space facility in far eastern Russia on Wednesday, for a summit that is being scrutinized for indications that Pyongyang will supply armaments the Kremlin needs for its war in Ukraine.

During a lunchtime toast, Mr. Kim expressed confidence in Russia’s ability to win the war , following the Kremlin’s lead in casting the conflict as a war against the collective West rather than against Ukraine. Mr. Kim said Russia would “win a great victory in the sacred struggle to punish the band of evil that aspires to hegemony and feeds on expansionist illusions.”

Mr. Kim said he had reached a consensus with Mr. Putin “on further strengthening strategic and tactical cooperation, support and solidarity in the struggle to protect the sovereign right of security.” He didn’t go into detail about what that meant.

In July, a visit by Russian Defense Minister Sergei K. Shoigu to Pyongyang seemed to presage deeper military cooperation.

Heading into the talks, Russian officials emphasized that Moscow planned to expand its bilateral relationship with North Korea, despite United Nations Security Council sanctions on the nation over its nuclear weapons program and U.S. warnings against any arms transfers. But they did not directly address the possibility of receiving artillery shells from Pyongyang.

Referring to military cooperation, Mr. Putin said on state television on Wednesday, “There are certain restrictions.” He added, “There are things we of course can talk about. We are discussing and thinking about it.”

Mr. Kim and Mr. Putin, the Russian president, have both become isolated by the West, but the war in Ukraine has elevated the North Korean leader’s significance to the Kremlin. Mr. Putin’s invasion has dragged on for nearly 19 months, and he needs allies. North Korea is one of the few countries willing to supply Russia with weapons.

The two leaders met at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Amur region, first entering group discussions alongside their respective ministers and later moving into a tête-à-tête. The talks lasted roughly two hours in total before the delegations broke for lunch.

While waiting for Mr. Kim to arrive, the Russian leader was asked whether Moscow would help Pyongyang with satellites and rockets.

“That’s why we came here,” Mr. Putin said, according to footage of the remarks released on Telegram. “The leader of North Korea is very interested in rocket technology. They are also trying to develop in space. We have good expertise, and we will show him our new infrastructure facilities.”

After the summit, Mr. Kim will continue on a tour of Russia, visiting Komsomolsk-on-Amur to see civilian and military aviation factories and then arriving in Vladivostok to visit a marine biology laboratory and witness a military demonstration of the capabilities of Russia’s Pacific Fleet, Mr. Putin said on Wednesday.

Despite international sanctions and domestic economic hardship, North Korea operates one of the world’s largest standing armies and a vigorous defense industry. U.S. officials have repeatedly warned that North Korea was shipping artillery shells and rockets for Russian troops in Ukraine

Mr. Kim arrived in Russia on Tuesday from North Korea, having traveled to the meeting on his armored train, a trip that took days. The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, said on Tuesday that the two leaders would discuss trade and economic ties, but he also made a veiled reference to bilateral cooperation in “certain sensitive spheres which should not be publicly revealed or announced,” according to the Russian state news agency Tass.

In recent weeks, Mr. Kim has visited North Korean munitions factories, urging them to expedite production of multiple rocket launches, sniper rifles, drones and missiles, according to the country’s state media.

North Korea also has one of the largest fleets of tanks in the world, though most are Soviet-era models. However, as Russian forces try to fend off a counteroffensive in Ukraine, Moscow urgently needs to replenish its depleted arsenals with tanks and artillery, according to military experts.

Pyongyang wants Russian parts for its Soviet-era military and civilian aircraft, as well as technological help for its nuclear and missile programs.

North Korea may also seek wheat shipments from Russia in return for weapons to help alleviate its chronic food shortages, analysts said. It also hopes to resume exporting construction and logging workers to Russia to bring in cash.

Alina Lobzina contributed reporting.

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