Putin and Kim Jong Un 'exchange letters' as Russia 'turns to North Korea for munitions'

30 August 2023, 20:16

Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un
Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Russian president Vladimir Putin and North Korea's Kim Jong Un are believed to have swapped letters as Russia seeks support in the Ukraine war.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

US intelligence showed that Putin and Kim Jong Un have swapped letters and pledged to increase their co-operation, the White House said.

It comes as as Russia is looking to North Korea for munitions for the war in Ukraine.

Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu, during a recent visit to Pyongyang, called on North Korean officials to increase the sale of munitions to Moscow for its war in Ukraine, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.

He added that Russia is looking for additional artillery shells and other military equipment.

The letters are "more at the surface level" but Russian and North Korean talks on a weapons sale are advancing, he explained.

The leaders exchanged the letters following Mr Shoigu's visit.

Read more: Russia hit by 'biggest drone strikes since Ukraine war began' as cargo planes damaged in airport attack

Read more: 'Farewell ceremony' for Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin as he is buried privately in St Petersburg after plane crash

Putin breaks silence following plane crash involving Wagner chief Prigozhin

At the United Nations on Wednesday, the US, the UK, South Korea and Japan urged North Korea to halt arms negotiations with Russia.

Any Russian-North Korean arms deals would violate UN Security Council resolutions, backed by Russia, that prohibit all countries from buying or obtaining any arms from the North, the four countries said in a joint statement.

"This sends the wrong message to aspiring proliferators that if you sell Russia arms, Russia will even enable your pursuit of nuclear weapons," according to a statement read by US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who was flanked by diplomats from the three other countries.

Late last year, the White House claimed the Wagner Group had taken delivery of an arms shipment from North Korea to help bolster its forces fighting in Ukraine.

The head of the group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, was recently killed in a mysterious plane crash, two months after staging a mutiny in the biggest challenge to Putin's rule since he rose to power.

North Korea has said the "hegemonic policy" of the US-led West forced Moscow to take military action in Ukraine to protect its security interests.

But both North Korea and Russia have denied US allegations about weapons.