Putin and Kim: what will emerge from the talks?


Russian President Vladimir Putin has welcomed North Korean strongman Kim Jong-un upon his arrival in a heavily armoured train at the Vostochny Cosmodrome. The two leaders are apparently set to discuss deliveries of weapons to Moscow and modern technology and food to Pyongyang. Commentators examine potential deals and beneficiaries.


Jutarnji list (HR) /

Moscow is running out of munitions

The main thing North Korea can supply is ammunition, Jutarnji list says:

“Pyongyang has production facilities for artillery ammunition and missiles that meet Soviet standards. The Russian army can use these in its offensive against Ukraine. The attackers used artillery ammunition without any restraint in the first months of the war (the West estimates that ten to eleven million artillery shells were fired last year) in the belief that this would destroy the Ukrainians’ morale. The damage to their own forces was twofold: morale in Ukraine increased, but their munitions stockpiles are completely depleted.”

Željko Trkanjec
Neatkarīgā (LV) /

Not as easy as it may seem

Neatkarīgā sees difficulties regarding the possibility of arms deliveries:

“What will happen if an agreement is reached? It will be difficult for Russia to cover up large deliveries of ammunition and projectiles from North Korea, and Moscow may have to admit that it is violating UN Security Council sanctions. Such a move could also anger many states in the so-called Global South. ... On Russian TV propaganda programmes, several hotheads have already made what they think is a constructive proposal — just as they voted for sanctions against North Korea, it wouldn’t be all that complicated to withdraw the signature now, they say. But the UN Charter does not provide for such a move.”

Māris Krūmiņš
The Times (GB) /

China arming Russia through the back door

The Times explains why Beijing could also benefit from Russian-North Korean cooperation:

“One theory is that Putin’s interest in dealing with Kim is less to do with North Korea’s offering and more with providing a cover for the supply of Chinese kit. That could work by Kim handing over some of his mothballed stocks to Putin and having his arsenal replenished by China. Kim gains a more modern army courtesy of Xi’s generals. Russia gets its war materiel. China fulfils its commitment to Putin but does so with a degree of deniability.”

Roger Boyes
Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Upping the pressure on the US

Corriere della Sera suspects a subtle form of blackmail:

“Moscow says it will discuss ‘humanitarian aid’ for North Korea, which is in a perpetual food crisis (most of the regime’s resources are invested in the development of nuclear missiles). At the same time, the Russians are visibly at pains to play down their desperate need for weapons. ... Putin is hinting that by forming an ‘axis of evil’ with the marshal he will aggravate the North Korean problem unless Joe Biden agrees to a compromise on Ukraine.”

Guido Santevecchi
Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

The "axis of evil" is back

Putin is gathering a club of dictators around him to create a counterbalance to the US, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung suspects:

“What a comedown for Russian President Vladimir Putin. ... But he can’t be too picky. With North Korean leader Kim Jong-un he is now courting one of the world’s worst dictators. Russia is isolated and its president can only travel to a handful of states because of the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court. The Kremlin is all the more eager for proof that Russia still has friends — even if they are rogues. ... The term ‘axis of evil’ is fitting for Putin’s club of dictators. ... Russia, Iran, North Korea and Belarus are united by their desire to stand up to the US.”

Andreas Rüesch