North Korean leader Kim Jong Un used his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in four years to state that his country views relations with Russia as a “first priority,” and to back Putin’s decisions amid the war in Ukraine.
Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.
According to the Kremlin, Kim told Putin at the summit, “we have always supported and stand by all decisions of President Putin and the Russian government.” The North Korean leader reportedly said that “Russia is now rising to the sacred struggle to defend its state sovereignty and protect its security,” adding that he hoped Pyongyang and Moscow would “always stand together in the fight against imperialism.”
A Pentagon press secretary repeated U.S. concerns that the summit between Putin and Kim would focus on arms negotiations. The United States suspects that Moscow and Pyongyang will seek to strike a deal aimed at resupplying Russia’s military, which has expended much of its prewar munitions in Ukraine. “We would call on North Korea to meet its previous stated public commitments not to supply weapons to Russia, which will only end up prolonging the unnecessary war in Ukraine,” Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said Tuesday.
Putin said he would discuss “all topics” when asked whether he would talk about “military-technical cooperation,” with Kim, according to Reuters, which cited Russian media. The United States and its Asian allies have also been concerned that Putin could help build Kim’s nuclear arsenal and modernize North Korea’s outdated conventional military.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said two ships undergoing repairs in Sevastopol had been damaged by an attack that it blamed on Ukraine. Air defense systems had shot down seven cruise missiles, while a Russian patrol ship had destroyed all enemy unmanned boats, it added. At least 24 people were injured in the attack early Wednesday, according to Mikhail Razvozhaev, a Kremlin-appointed official overseeing the area, who said that the assault resulted in a fire.
Britain’s Defense Ministry said it was “highly likely” that “elements of Russia’s new 25th Combined Arms Army” had “deployed to Ukraine for the first time” — even though as recently as last month, recruitment ads for the unit “claimed it would only deploy to Ukraine from December 2023.” The ministry said in its daily intelligence assessment that the unit could “have been rushed into action early” in part because Russia’s military is overstretched on the front amid Ukraine’s ongoing counter-offensive. But the ministry said the early deployment could also be an attempt to “regenerate an uncommitted reserve force in the theatre to provide commanders with more operational flexibility.”
Drones attacked Ukraine’s Odessa region, Oleh Kiper, the Ukrainian governor of the area, said early Wednesday. The attack damaged port facilities, civil infrastructure and injured seven people, with two of them in serious condition.
The United States could complete F-16 training for a group of Ukrainian pilots by the end of the year, though it will take longer than that for them to be flying combat missions, Lt. Gen. Michael Loh, the head of Air National Guard said, according to the Associated Press. Loh said Tuesday that Ukraine’s most experienced fighter pilots could complete training in Arizona on the F-16 in as little as three months. After that, those pilots will get some more training in Europe, the AP reported.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Ukraine was making “great strides” as an E.U. candidate country, but stressed that membership is a merit-based process and did not offer a timeline on membership. In her annual State of the European Union speech on Wednesday, von der Leyen said the European Commission will propose to extend temporary protection to Ukrainians. The program gives Ukrainian refugees the right to live, study and work across the 27-member bloc. “They are as welcome now as they were in those fateful few weeks,” von der Leyen said.
A representative of the pope is expected to arrive in China as part of a push to facilitate peace in Ukraine, Chinese and Vatican officials confirmed. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said that “Pope Francis’ special envoy for the Ukraine issue, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, will be visiting China” from Wednesday to Friday, and is scheduled to meet with Chinese Special Representative for Eurasian Affairs Li Hui.
Zelensky will meet Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week. Israeli and Ukrainian officials confirmed the meeting, though they did not specify a date. Zelensky is expected to be in New York City for the high-level meetings of U.N. leaders and is scheduled to give a speech to the General Assembly on Monday. Tensions between the two nations have been high due to Israel’s continued relationship with Russia, as well as a pending visit from Israeli pilgrims to Uman in Ukraine for Rosh Hashanah.
Russia ramps up drone, guided bomb attacks to thwart counteroffensive: Moscow has stepped up aerial attacks against Ukrainian forces attacking Russian positions in southern Ukraine, exploiting Kyiv’s limited air defense systems and shortage of fighter jets, report Alex Horton and Serhii Korolchuk. Russian forces are irking their adversaries with attack drones and guided bombs, soldiers and analysts said.
“It’s important to know that it’s relatively cheap stuff,” one military expert said. “And Russia has almost unlimited stocks.”
Michelle Lee, Natalia Abbakumova, Emily Rauhala and Lyric Li contributed to this report.