• Kim is looking for a win after his collapsed second summit with Trump, and Putin for a chance to raise • Moscow’s clout in the regionBut analysts predict that the meeting is likely to focus more on showing camaraderie
Russian President Vladimir Putin with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vladivostok. Photo: EPA-EFE
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Vladivostok provides an intriguing twist to the global diplomatic push to resolve the nuclear stand-off with Pyongyang, which appeared to hit a wall after a summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump collapsed in February.
It also adds a chapter to the storied but often strained friendship between Pyongyang and Moscow, which was forged in the blood of war and weathered by the Soviet collapse and tensions surrounding the North’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.
What’s at stake for Kim and Putin?
For both Putin and Kim, the summit may be more important for its optics than any substantive deal or agreement – particularly for an audience of one in the US.Kim’s outreach to Putin could be part of his plans to expand his options and secure allies who would apply pressure on Washington to ease its stance on sanctions. Russia currently seems better positioned to endorse Kim’s stance than China, which is locked in high-stakes trade negotiations with the US.
“Kim wants to show that he’s cooperating with Russia too, rather than looking to only the US and China. But I think it’s not easy for Russia and China to provide North Korea with practical help that leads to the inflow of dollars,” said Chon Hyun-joon, a former senior researcher at the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul.
The meeting could also serve Putin’s desire to increase Russia’s regional clout.
“Russia wants to show Putin sitting at the table and being the indispensable power,” said Alexander Gabuev, senior fellow at the think-tank Carnegie Moscow Centre. “I don’t think anyone expects miracles or breakthroughs.”
But observers said there is little of substance Putin will be able to offer Kim to help North Korea’s economy out of its dire state without violating the sanctions Russia signed on to as a member of the United Nations Security Council.
“Kim understands Russians are not going to shower him with money,” veteran North Korea analyst Andrei Lankov said. “There will be no significant deal, maybe some humanitarian, developmental aid, diplomatic gesture of support.”