North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived by train in the far eastern Russian port city of Vladivostok today (April 24) ahead of his first ever meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
The two are expected to talk about the Korean peninsula’s “nuclear problem,” according to the Kremlin, while Kim is also likely to seek economic support from Moscow as the US shows no sign of relaxing its sanctions on the regime.
Their meeting comes months after a summit in Hanoi between Kim and US president Donald Trump, which resulted in an impasse in the nuclear negotiations between the two countries. Kim is also choosing to snub events planned for this weekend celebrating the first anniversary of a summit between South Korean president Moon Jae-in and the North Korean leader, a further sign of Pyongyang’s displeasure at the state of talks with the US.
Kim embarked on his journey by private train from Pyongyang at dawn. Upon crossing the border into Russia, he stepped out of his train at the border city of Khasan where he was presented with bread and salt, a Russian tradition for welcoming guests.
Kim’s journey to Vladivostok by train took about nine hours. Traveling by rail has long been favored by Kim, his father Kim Jong Il, and his grandfather Kim Il Sung. One reason may be that armored carriages provide superior security. Another is that North Korea simply lacks the infrastructure to make flying possible—Kim had to borrow a plane from China (paywall) to get to Singapore for his June 2018 summit with Trump. For his February trip to Vietnam for the meeting with Trump, Kim opted for a two-and-a-half-day train ride.