Russian deputy minister of defense Alexander Fomin will visit North Korea on a “working visit,” the ministry announced on Tuesday, without specifying the dates of his expected stay in Pyongyang.
Fomin will “hold bilateral talks with the leadership” of the North Korean Ministry of People’s Armed Forces and discuss “the state and prospects of Russian-North Korean military cooperation,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement.
The two sides will also “discuss the situation in Northeast Asia and the Korean Peninsula,” as well as “current problems of international and regional security.”
The most recent high-level talks between the two ministries of defense were held in Moscow in late April, just before the summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un across the country in Vladivostok.
During a meeting on the sidelines of the Moscow Conference on International Security between Russian defense minister Sergey Shoygu and his DPRK counterpart No Kwang Chol, Shoygu said the talks would “help strengthen cooperation between the defense departments,” according to the Russian Ministry of Defense.
The military theme was front and center at the summit, too, with Kim Jong Un attending a wreath-laying ceremony at the Military Glory of the Pacific Fleet, a monument attached to the Russian naval Pacific Fleet headquarters.
A North Korean military delegation led by a combat training chief of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) General Staff Operations Bureau (GSOB) named Kim Jin Chol was also reported to have visited the Pacific fleet on June 4.
The story from Russian outlet Vesti Primorye was later taken down, however, and NK News was unable to independently verify the details.
But in addition to direct military cooperation between Moscow and Pyongyang, the Russian President has sought to make the North’s military security a key item on the agenda for negotiations since the summit with Kim.
Immediately following his summit with Kim Jong Un, Putin told reporters that “first and foremost, [Kim] wants to ensure his national interest and ensure his country’s security.”
He continued to press the point last week that a solution to an impasse in denuclearization talks between the U.S. and North Korea will depend on providing security guarantees for Pyongyang.
“What we should be talking about is not how to make North Korea disarm, but how to ensure the unconditional security of North Korea,” he said in an interview with the Financial Times before heading to the G20 in Japan last week.
“We must respect North Korea’s legitimate security concerns … and we must find a way of ensuring its security that will satisfy North Korea,” he added.
The last high-level bilateral military talks between the two sides held in North Korea was in December 2017, when the deputy head of Russia’s National Defence Command Centre Viktor Kalganov led a delegation to Pyongyang.
Meanwhile, the Russian and North Korean foreign ministries are continuing bilateral talks once again this week, this time in Pyongyang with the arrival on Monday of Georgy Zinoviev, head of the ministry’s First Asian Department, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.
Zinoviev earlier this year spoke of “giving a boost to ties on practical trajectories, including in multilateral format with the participation of South Korean partners” alongside North Korean partners.
The visit follows a trip to Moscow by North Korean vice foreign minister Im Chon Il last week for bilateral talks with his counterpart Igor Morgulov.
According to KCNA, the two sides followed up on the outcomes of the late April Kim-Putin summit and discussed “boosting exchanges and contacts in various fields, including high-level visit and intensifying economic and cultural cooperation.”