North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un plans to travel to Russia this month to meet with President Vladimir Putin to discuss supplying weapons to Moscow in its war with Ukraine, US government officials said. . When questioned about this information, the Kremlin chose to remain silent. Meanwhile, in Cuba, authorities announced that they detected a human trafficking network to recruit them as mercenaries in the Russian invasion.
Arms negotiations between North Korea and Russia are actively advancing. This was stated by the spokesperson for the United States National Security Council, Adrienne Watson.
“We have information that Kim Jong-Un hopes these discussions will continue to include leader-level diplomatic engagement in Russia,” Watson said in a statement.
His statements came after The New York Times, which cited officials from Joe Biden’s government who spoke on condition of anonymity, reported that North Korean leader Kim Jon-Un plans to travel to Vladivostok, on the coast of the Russia’s Pacific, to meet with President Putin.
Precisely, the meeting, which would take place this month, aims to address possible arms supplies from Pyongyang to Moscow for use in the war it is waging in Ukraine for more than a year and a half.
The conversations would revolve around the delivery of artillery shells and anti-tank missiles in exchange for Russia’s advanced technology for satellites and nuclear-powered submarines‘The New York Times’ reported.
Breaking News: Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, will visit President Vladimir Putin in Russia to discuss supplying North Korean weaponry for the Ukraine war.https://t.co/huREAslBDR
—The New York Times (@nytimes) September 4, 2023
However, when questioned about the issue, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov neither confirmed nor rejected reports about an upcoming meeting between the leaders of the two nuclear powers. “There is nothing to say,” Peskov simply responded.
Moscow and Pyongyang have denied previous claims by Washington that North Korea had provided weapons to Russia.
On August 30, White House national security spokesman John Kirby stressed that his government is concerned that arms negotiations between nations led by Kim and Putin were moving forward.
If it takes place, Kim’s trip would be his first overseas in more than four years. Usually, the North Korean leader’s visits to other countries are surrounded by secrecy and robust security measures.
Russia and North Korea vow to boost defense cooperation
Although the two sides reject specific information about the exchange of weapons and nuclear technology, the news of Kim’s possible visit comes after Russia will report that it is discussing military exercises with North Korea.
“Why not, these are our neighbors. There is an old Russian saying: you do not choose your neighbors and it is better to live with your neighbors in peace and harmony,” said Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, quoted by the state news agency. Interfax, Monday, September 4.
It is a stance that raises US concerns over growing military ties between two of the West’s main adversaries.
And as Russia’s isolation increases, amid sanctions for ordering the invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin sees increasing value in North Korea.
Although their relations have not been close in recent years, as they were during the rise of the defunct Soviet Union, Pyongyang now reaps clear benefits from Moscow’s need to forge and maintain allies.
As a sign of this, Russia has joined China in opposing new sanctions against North Korea, blocking a US-led initiative and publicly dividing the UN Security Council, for the first time since it began punishing Pyongyang in 2006.
Amid further rapprochement, Shoigu visited Pyongyang last July to attend weapons displays that included banned ballistic missiles.
“Just as you can tell a person by his friends, you can tell a country by the companies he keeps (…) In the case of Russia, that company is now largely made up of other rogue states,” said Keir Giles. , senior consultant to the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Royal Chatham House Institute of International Affairs.
Now, Kim is likely to aim to emphasize a sense of support for Russia and seek agreements on arms sales, aid and sending workers to Russia, said Andrei Lankov, a North Korea expert at Kookmin University in Seoul, interviewed by Reuters. .
Cuba affirms that it detected a human trafficking network to fight in Ukraine
The statement came from the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday, September 4. According to the announcement, the island’s authorities discovered a human trafficking network that forced its citizens to fight on behalf of Russia in the ongoing war on Ukrainian soil.
Havana indicated that the network operated both in the Caribbean country and from Russian territory. Following the findings, the Foreign Ministry indicated, the Cuban authorities are working to dismantle that organization and “criminal proceedings have been initiated against the people involved in these activities.”
“The Ministry of the Interior is working on the neutralization and dismantling of a human trafficking network that operates from Russia to incorporate Cuban citizens residing there, and even some in Cuba, into the military forces participating in war operations in Ukraine” added the statement from the Cuban Government.
⚡️#Cuba has uncovered a human trafficking network in Russia that illegally recruits Cubans living there to participate in the war against Ukraine.
“Attempts of this nature have been neutralized, and criminal proceedings have been initiated against persons involved in these… pic.twitter.com/OFAKixn9dx
— KyivPost (@KyivPost) September 5, 2023
The Administration of Miguel Diaz-Canel released this information after last May a Russian newspaper in the city of Ryazan published that several Cuban citizens signed contracts with the Moscow Armed Forces and were sent to Ukraine in exchange for obtaining citizenship. Russian.
However, the island’s Foreign Ministry did not specify whether its information is related to that previously reported by the Russian press.
Although Russia and Cuba maintain strong political, diplomatic and economic ties, among others, the Government of the Caribbean country denies any participation in the conflict.
“Cuba is not part of the war in Ukraine (…) It is acting and will act vigorously against anyone who participates in any form of human trafficking in order to recruit Cuban citizens as mercenaries to use weapons against any country,” the Ministry stressed. of Foreign Affairs.
For years, Russia has been a major destination for Cubans seeking to escape economic stagnation at home. In addition, earlier this year, the defense ministries of the two nations discussed the development of joint “technical-military” projects, but Havana insists that it remains outside the largest conflict on European soil in recent decades.
With Reuters, AP and local media
Source: France 24