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North will ‘pay a price’ for any arms supplies to Russia, U.S. says

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National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington on Tuesday. [REUTERS/YONHAP]
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington on Tuesday. [REUTERS/YONHAP]

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan warned North Korea against providing any lethal weapons to Russia Tuesday, saying it will “pay a price” in the international community if it does.

Sullivan told reporters in a press briefing at the White House in Washington that there were no indications that Pyongyang provided large amounts of weapons to Moscow so far.

“Our current analysis is that discussions between North Korea and Russia, with respect to North Korea providing military support to Russia for its war in Ukraine,” are “actively advancing,” he said.

The New York Times reported earlier this week that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is expected to visit Vladivostok to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin for talks about supplying weapons for Russia’s war in Ukraine, citing U.S. officials.

“Providing weapons to Russia for use on the battlefield to attack grain silos and the heating infrastructure of major cities as we head into winter, to try to conquer territory that belongs to another sovereign nation is not going to reflect well on North Korea, and they will pay a price for this in the international community,” Sullivan said.

The Kim-Putin meeting could take place sometime between next Monday and Wednesday at Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok and is likely to follow the North’s scheduled paramilitary parade on Saturday to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the regime’s founding.

Kim will likely travel from Pyongyang by armored train to the port city, located on the Pacific coast of Russia’s Far Eastern Federal District, for his meeting with Putin. It could mark his first trip abroad in over four years.

Sullivan noted that the North invited Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to events celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Korean War armistice in Pyongyang last month. Kim gave a tour of an arms exhibition to Shoigu, fueling speculation of a possible arms deal in the works.

Confirming the possibility of a summit, Sullivan said, “We also have information, as we have indicated publicly, that North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, has some expectation that those discussions will continue as we go forward — including leader-level discussions, perhaps even in-person leader-level discussions.”

He said that Washington has yet to see an active supply of “large amounts of munitions or other military capacity” to Russia for the war in Ukraine.

“I can only say that the discussions have been actively advancing, and the Russians have imbued them with an increased intensity,” Sullivan said, “as reflected in the fact that their defense minister, their number one guy in their defense establishment, actually got on a plane and flew to Pyongyang to try to push this forward.”

The remarks come as U.S. President Joe Biden is headed to India for the G20 summit later this week in New Delhi, which will also be attended by South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol.

Seoul’s Foreign Ministry also warned regarding reports that Pyongyang and Moscow plan to discuss an arms deal that “military cooperation with North Korea that undermines the peace and stability of the international community should not take place.”

Lim Soo-suk, the ministry’s spokesperson, said in a briefing in Seoul Tuesday, “Our government is closely watching trends related to the situation on the Korean Peninsula, including people-to-people exchanges between Russia and North Korea.”

He said that relevant authorities in South Korea and the United States are also “in close communication” regarding trends in North Korea.

“No UN member state should violate Security Council sanctions resolutions against North Korea, including engaging in illegal arms trade,” Lim added.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]