North Korea leader Kim Jong Un arrives in Russia via train
Kim Jong-un is in Russia today for a long-awaited meeting with Vladimir Putin as the pair strikes a terrifying alliance. But in the face of a new deal, what does each side have to offer?
The North Korean leader made a 426-mile trek aboard his iconic green locomotive from Pyongyang to the Pacific port city of Vladivostok to meet with the Russian dictator for the second time ever.
The two nations are both heavily sanctioned and isolated from the West, so a meeting between both brutal regimes could be a tactic to swerve the impacts.
Russia is reportedly running low on weapons and ammunition to fight its illegal war in Ukraine. With a lack of trading partners and allies amid the brutal campaign waged on its neighbours, the Hermit kingdom may be one of Moscow’s only hopes left.
Meanwhile, Pyongyang has made a keen effort to threaten its adversaries with a series of missile tests and could need Russia for its special expertise in this domain.
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READ MORE Kim Jong-un arrives in Russia in heavily armoured train to meet Putin
The isolated totalitarian state is also in dire need of economic aid and Russia could step in return for more weapons, despite it being the far superior military power with a massive nuclear stockpile.
Russia has by far the largest nuclear arsenal on the planet, with nearly 6,000 in its terrifying collection.
The RS-28 Satan 2 is one of its most devastating, with the potential to fire 12 nuclear warheads simultaneously. Russia displayed the missile in a threatening test launch not long after illegally invading Ukraine last year.
North Korea’s nuclear capabilities are far smaller, with an estimated 30-45 warheads in its arsenal.
It is relevant to note there is a high degree of uncertainty surrounding the secretive country’s stockpile and production.
However, Pyongyang is never shy of nuclear-sabre rattling, testing out its powerful Hwasong-18 missile in a drill earlier this summer.
Pyongyang also warned on Friday that it has a new submarine with nuclear attack capabilities after years of development. Kim described the milestone as vital in his efforts to build a nuclear-armed navy to counter the US and its Asian allies.
But whether Pyongyang’s claims are to be believed is another matter.
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Dr Guo Yu, Lead Analyst on Sybiline’s Asia-Pacific team, explained to Daily Express US: “There is very little information regarding Pyongyang’s development of ICBM-related technologies that are critical for North Korea to acquire the capability to launch nuclear-armed ballistic missiles.”
Paul Bracken, professor of management and political science at the Yale School of Management, said the new alliance could make it easier for the North Koreans to learn lessons from Russia’s nuclear prowess.
He told Daily Express US: “There will be huge consequences: evading sanctions; sell ammo, drones, and landmines; and allow key specialists to help build their national programs. A Russian missile engineer can more easily go to North Korea to consult now.
Other military capabilities
Russia has an estimated 12,500 tanks, around 4,000 multiple launch rocket systems (MRLS) and over 1.3 million troops in its military machine.
North Korea has around 6,500 tanks but over 1.2 million soldiers, and almost 3,000 MLRS rockets.
John R. Bryson, professor of enterprise and economic geography at Birmingham University, told Daily Express US that North Korea is “not an innovator in terms of military technology”, meaning Russia has the advantage here.
But Matt Shomaker, a military analyst and former DIA Intelligence officer, said Moscow will likely be the one in need of “more ammunition and more military kit” from Pyongyang to aid its fight in Ukraine, despite the weaker military prowess.
He added: “The North Korean army in particular, which comprises the vast majority of the North Korean military, is under fed, under equipped, and under-trained.
“It is a reflection of the decay North Korean society in general and the government specifically has undergone under decades of communist rule.”
Where Russia will return the favour comes in the form of its greater economic resources.
While crippling economic sanctions have battered Russia’s financial instructions that saw the rouble slump, Russia’s funds still tower over North Korea’s.
The nation has come off the back of a brutal famine and may be searching for foodstuffs in return for weaponry. But Kim himself is worth an estimated £3.6billion and is far from frugal when splashing his cash.
He is known to own fleets of luxury vehicles and a massive property portfolio. Kim allegedly owns 17 palaces and 95ft yacht,
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In 2018 he reportedly took delivery of special Maybach Mercedes S600s and a private plane.
Putin is similarly loaded, with an estimated net worth of up £160 billion.
The war tyrant spends his time relaxing in a £1 billion palace by the Black Sea, with a stunning array of facilities from a cinema to a casino.
The Russian dictator also owns a luxury 32-metre yacht and a number of holiday homes dotted across the Baltic Sea and Lake Ladoga in the north of Russia.
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