Rumors have been circulating for the past week about a potential arms agreement between North Korea and Russia. It was anticipated that this announcement would be made during a summit between the leaders of the two nations. The Kremlin has verified these reports, which had been previously mentioned in Japanese and South Korean media.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will make an “official visit” to Russia “in the coming days,” the Kremlin announced on Monday, without specifying a precise date for a meeting with Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin’s statement simply states that Kim Jong Un’s visit is made “at the invitation of the Russian president” and that the two presidents will have a meeting.
Many Japanese and South Korean media outlets have reported that this trip has been imminent for several days, according to our correspondent in Seoul, Nicolas Rocca. “A special train carrying Kim Jong-un seems to have departed for Russia,” is how Yonhap, the South Korean news agency, reported the information. South Korean intelligence estimates that the destination is Vladivostok, where Vladimir Putin is planning a two-day visit.
For what would be the North Korean leader’s first official trip abroad since the start of the pandemic, he has reportedly chosen the traditional mode of transportation for his family: the train. It could be the luxurious armored train used in 2019 during the first summit between the two leaders. This train reportedly consists of 90 wagons, high-tech communication systems, flat-screen TVs, conference rooms, and even the capacity to carry a helicopter for evacuation if needed.
Three trains would operate simultaneously—one to check the condition of the tracks, one for Kim Jong-un and his entourage, and another for the rest of the delegation. The only issue is speed. Four years ago, it took nearly 20 hours to reach Vladivostok, despite its proximity to Pyongyang, just 200 km away. On-site, Reuters news agency reports a higher-than-usual police presence, although no other signs have confirmed Kim Jong-un’s visit.