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Ukraine live briefing: Putin accepts ‘with gratitude’ Kim’s invitation to visit North Korea

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The U.S. said it is monitoring developments from the Putin-Kim summit and concerned over Kim Jong Un’s support for Russia. (Video: The Washington Post)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un continues his visit to Russia’s Far East, where he is expected to tour an aviation factory and inspect Russia’s Pacific naval fleet this week. The visit is a display of closeness between Kim and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who met yesterday in Russia’s far eastern Amur region and have indicated an interest in military cooperation.

The two leaders probably discussed arms sales from North Korea to Russia and food aid for North Korea, though there was no announcement of a deal at the summit. According to U.S. intelligence assessments, Russia is looking to obtain weaponry from North Korea to bolster its supplies, which have shrunk amid its war in Ukraine.

Ukraine has claimed a number of strikes on Russian military sites on Crimea, with Ukrainian news outlets also reporting that an S-400 air defense system was destroyed on the illegally occupied peninsula on Thursday. The Washington Post could not independently verify the reports.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

Putin accepted Kim’s invitation to visit North Korea “with gratitude,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday in a news briefing. Peskov said a visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov next month to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, is being planned first. During their meeting, Putin gifted Kim a glove from a spacesuit that had been in space, as well as a domestically made carbine, Peskov said. Kim presented Putin with a carbine made by Korean craftsmen and other gifts, the Kremlin spokesman said.

Kim reaffirmed his support for Moscow, saying, “We have always supported and stand by all decisions of President Putin and the Russian government,” according to the Kremlin. Kim apparently praised Russia’s “sacred struggle to defend its state sovereignty and protect its security,” repeating rhetoric used by Putin to defend his invasion of Ukraine.

South Korea condemned the meeting between Kim and Putin. “Despite repeated warnings from the international community, North Korea and Russia discussed military cooperation issues, including satellite development, during their summit,” Lim Soo-suk, a spokesman for South Korea’s Foreign Ministry, said in a news briefing Thursday, according to the Associated Press. South Korea’s National Security Council urged North Korea and Russia not to trade weapons, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

The head national security officials of the U.S., Japan and South Korea held a trilateral call Thursday, affirming that “any arms exports from the DPRK to Russia would directly violate multiple UN Security Council resolutions, including resolutions that Russia itself voted to adopt,” according to a White House readout of the call.

The White House is monitoring developments from the Putin-Kim summit, according to White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby. “We’ve got to see what actually shakes out of this meeting and the degree to which any kind of an arms deal was consummated,” he said. “If they decide to move forward with some sort of arms deal, we’ll obviously take the measure of that, and we’ll deal with it appropriately.”

Russia claimed to have it stopped an attempted drone assault on Crimea and an attempted attack on a patrol boat belonging to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet on Thursday. The Russian Defense Ministry said that air defenses shot down the drones over Crimea and that the patrol boat’s defenses “destroyed” five unmanned boats. Ukraine did not immediately confirm the assaults. Russia illegally annexed Crimea in 2014, and the peninsula has come under several attacks in recent months.

A 6-year-old child was killed and four people were wounded by artillery shelling in the Kherson region shortly after midnight Thursday in the village of Novodmytrivka, the Office of Ukraine’s Prosecutor General said. The prosecutor blamed Russia for the strike and said the wounded included the child’s teenage brother and “three neighbors who tried to help” but “came under enemy fire.”

Russia said it thwarted drone attacks over Bryansk Oblast, a region southwest of Moscow near the Ukrainian border. The Russian Defense Ministry said air defenses shot down drones shortly after midnight Thursday. The local governor said there were no reports of casualties or damage.

Russian officials accused Ukraine of shelling a village in the Kursk region overnight, killing one person and injuring another. Kursk regional governor Roman Starovoyt said a distillery in the village of Tyotkino was hit, killing a forklift driver. More shelling of settlements in the region thereafter resulted in one injury, he said. The Kursk region borders Ukraine, and Russian border areas have frequently been the target of attacks since the start of the war.

President Biden will meet with Zelensky during the United Nations General Assembly meeting next week in New York, NBC reports. Zelensky and Biden last met during the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, in July.

Russia said it had declared two U.S. diplomats working in Moscow as “persona non grata,” asking them to leave the country within seven days. The two diplomats were accused of maintaining contact with a Russian citizen performing “tasks for financial remuneration with the aim of damaging the national security of the Russian Federation,” according to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Russian has been named as Robert Shonov, a former employee of the U.S. Consulate in Vladivostok, in other news releases. The U.S. State Department condemned Shonov’s arrest earlier this year and said the accusations against him “are wholly without merit.”

The U.S. Treasury announced nearly 100 new sanctions on elites and companies it says are aiding Russia’s war effort. Those sanctioned include not only Russians who had previously avoided rounds of sanctions, such as Mkrtich Okroyan, the chief designer for Soyuz, a company that manufactures engines for many of the missiles being fired at Ukraine, but also Turkish firms involved in the trade of sanctioned goods to Russia.

Ukraine’s plans “to diversify its supply” of nuclear fuel away from Russian sources hit a milestone earlier this week, Britain’s Defense Ministry said, when “Energoatom, Ukraine’s nuclear power plant operator, announced it had a successfully refueled a reactor at its Rivne Nuclear Power Plant” in northwestern Ukraine near the border with Poland and Belarus, “using Western-produced nuclear fuel assemblies.” The ministry said Thursday that Ukraine’s nuclear sector was dependent on Russian fuel and Soviet-era designs but that, since the invasion, Kyiv has “accelerated” plans for a “long-term decoupling from Russia, whose influence over Ukraine’s energy supply is severely diminished.”

Analysis from our correspondents

Kim Jong Un’s visit to Russia hints at grim battlefield math for Putin: The visit by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un highlights the predicament that Russian President Vladimir Putin has found himself in: fighting a war with a dwindling chest of arms.

Russia’s armed forces are churning through artillery in Ukraine at an unsustainable rate, The Post’s Adam Taylor writes, forcing Putin to try to find ways to bolster the military’s stockpiles of ammunition. That may have contributed to Kim’s visit this week to Russia, where the two leaders are expected to discuss supplying artillery shells, though it’s unclear exactly how much North Korea could send to Russia.

Min Joo Kim and Natalia Abbakumova contributed to this report.

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