North Korean leader Kim Jong Un crossed the border into Russia on his armoured train ahead of a meeting with Putin

KCNA via KNS/AFP/Getty ImagesNorth Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un crossed the border into Russia on Wednesday via his armoured train ahead of a summit with the Russian President Vladimir Putin set for Thursday in the city of Vladivostok, according to reports.
  • The main topic of the summit, according to the Kremlin, is North Korea’s nuclear program and denuclearization.
  • Additionally, each country is hoping to gain something from this diplomatic dance, while also trying not to step on any toes in the broader global community, reports explain.
  • Here’s a basic rundown of what each country is seeking.
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un crossed into Russia on Wednesday via his armoured train. Kim and Russian President Vladimir Putin are set to meet on Thursday in the city of Vladivostok, according to reports.

This North Korea-Russia summit – taking place roughly two months after a failed meeting between Kim and US President Donald Trump – marks the first since Kim’s father Kim Jong Il travelled to Russia in 2011.

The main topic of the summit, according to the Kremlin, is North Korea’s nuclear program and denuclearization.

“In the last few months the situation around the peninsula has stabilised somewhat, thanks in large part to North Korea’s initiatives of stopping rocket testing and closing its nuclear test site,” Yuri Iskov, an advisor to the Kremlin told Russian state media. “Russia intends to help in any way possible to cement that positive trend.”

In addition, each country is hoping to gain something from this diplomatic dance, while also trying not to step on any toes in the broader global community, reports explain. Here’s a basic rundown of what each country is seeking.

North Korea

  • The meeting gives Kim a chance to project to the international community that he can meet with other world leaders besides Trump, Reuters points out.
  • Kim will potentially ask for the more than 10,000 North Korean laborers to remain in Russia, despite a United Nations sanctions resolution from 2017 that calls for them to be expelled at the end of the year, the Associated Press reported. These laborers bring a steady flow of revenue to North Korea. (However, Anthony Rinna, a writer at Sino-NK focusing on Russia-North Korea relations, told Reuters that “Moscow will be hard-pressed to accommodate Kim given its desire to portray a responsible image in the world.”)
  • Kim also likely wants Putin to side with North Korea on the easing of sanctions. The US and its allies have applied a “maximum pressure” approach of economic sanctions push North Korea to denuclearize. After the summit collapsed in Hanoi in February, Trump said that North Korea would have to do something “meaningful” to before sanctions were lifted and the two countries have dug in on their hard lines.
  • North Korea is also courting broader Russian trade and investment into its infrastructure, the AP explains.
  • Finally, the AP reports that Kim is concerned about pot entail food shortages, and Reuters points out that Russia sent 2,000 tons of wheat to North Korea this year and is poised to send more through its World Food Programme.

Russia

  • Russia would like to exert more influence in the region (and weaken the United States’ influence), without upsetting China, North Korea’s main regional partner.
  • According to the Associated Press, Russia would also like to “gain broader access to North Korea’s mineral resources, including rare metals.”
  • This is a moment for Putin to show his influence on the global stage, even if Russia is “unlikely to risk its authority at the United Nations by overtly breaching sanctions,” Reuters reported.

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