Russia-Ukraine: Two years of war
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Russia's President Putin and North Korea's leader Kim meet in Amur region.


Putin toasts to “strengthening of cooperation” with Kim Jong Un

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin met for several hours on Wednesday in Russia’s far east region amid reports that the Kremlin is looking to buy ammunition and weapons from Pyongyang due to dwindling stockpiles at home.

What's more, as the meeting was underway, North Kora fired two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast that landed in the sea.

It was the first time that Kim, an international pariah, has left the North in some four years. Putin, for his part, walked his friend through Russia's most modern space rocket launch site, while confirming that “all issues” were on the table – a nod to the fact that Pyongyang wants both economic aid – notably food and grain – and military tech in the trade.

The Kremlin also held a state dinner to reinforce the budding friendship.

The two also toasted to Putin’s war in Ukraine, with Kim affirming that North Korea “stand with Russia in the anti-imperialist, self-reliant front.” Still, as an increasingly isolated Putin looks for more friends, as Ian Bremmer notes, using the pariah Kim to prove that he’s not totally isolated – particularly just as the UN General Assembly gets underway in New York – is hardly a winning diplomatic strategy.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un.


Kim Jong Un meets Vladimir Putin

Infamous North Korean recluse Kim Jong Un does not leave the Korean Peninsula much, but he’s currently on route to Russia to meet Vladimir Putin.

It’s the first time that Kim, who’s making the long journey by train, has left the North in some four years, and his last trip abroad was also to the Russian city of Vladivostok where he’s expected to disembark on Tuesday. The Kremlin is treating it as a full state visit.

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Paige Fusco

The Graphic Truth: Russian and Chinese oil exports to North Korea

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Russian Pacific port city of Vladivostok is in part meant to highlight that both leaders – though isolated – still have friends in high places. Putin is expected to ask for additional arms from North Korea, while Pyongyang wants economic and material help as it struggles with ongoing food shortages and perennial economic mismanagement.

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A TV screen shows an image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Pyongyang.


North Korea hacked who now?

For five months in 2021-2022, North Korean hackers ran wild in the systems of a top Russian missile company, according to a new report by Reuters.

The breach of NPO Mashinostroyeniya, which makes Russia’s cutting-edge hypersonic cruise missiles, was discovered by Reuters and a team of cybersecurity experts who were tipped off when an IT person at the Russian company uploaded info about the hack to a server monitored by global cyber analysts.

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North Korean soldiers on a vehicle carrying rockets during a military parade in Pyongyang.

REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

What We’re Watching: Russia buys North Korean arms, EU tilts at windfalls, Indonesians take to the streets

Russia scrambles for weapons

Newly declassified US intelligence claims that Russia is buying millions of artillery shells and rockets from North Korea. If true, this is yet more evidence that a Russian military leadership expecting a quick victory in Ukraine following its Feb. 24 invasion has badly miscalculated both Russia’s capabilities and the intensity and effectiveness of Ukrainian military resistance. The weaponry North Korea is providing is not the high-tech, precision-guided munitions that US and European export controls are designed to prevent Russia from producing. These are basic weapons that Russia appears unable to produce in needed quantities. US intelligence also suggests that a significant number of drones Russia has been forced to purchase from Iran have proven defective. These revelations underscore two important problems for Russia. First, Western sanctions are badly disrupting Russian supply lines, making it impossible for the Russian arms industry to produce the weapons that Russia would need to win the war in Ukraine. Second, while China remains happy to buy Russian oil, it has so far proven unwilling to defy US warnings not to violate weapons and parts sanctions against Moscow.

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