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Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a Security Council meeting virtually at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on March 31, 2023. (Aleksey Babushkin/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)
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Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit North Korea on June 18 and Vietnam the following day, the Kremlin's press service reported on June 17.

With Russia's military stocks running low and domestic production capacity simultaneously hampered by Western sanctions, North Korea has been shaping up to be Russia's leading weapons supplier, reportedly providing Moscow with extensive military packages, including ballistic missiles and around 5 million artillery shells.

Despite the increasingly strong alliance, Putin has not visited North Korea since 2000, when he met with previous North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il.

Current North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un met with Putin in Russia in September 2023.

Alexander Matsegora, Russia's ambassador to North Korea, told the state-controlled media outlet Kommersant earlier in June that Putin was planning to visit North Korea in the near future but did not provide a specific date.

Putin has visited Vietnam four times previously, but not since the beginning of Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine.

Vietnam and Russia have long had close relations, dating back to the Soviet Union's support for North Vietnam and its proxy forces during the Vietnam War. Vietnam has maintained a neutral stance regarding Russia's war against Ukraine.

Putin will meet with top Vietnamese officials, including the recently elected President To Lam.

The purpose of the trip is to discuss the "further development of a comprehensive strategic partnership between Russia and Vietnam in the trade, economic, scientific, technological and humanitarian fields, as well as to exchange views on current issues on the international and regional agenda," the Kremlin said.

While North Korea is a pariah state with few international allies, Vietnam and the U.S. have close ties despite their fraught history.

The announcement of the visit elicited a rebuke from U.S. officials.

"No country should give Putin a platform to promote his war of aggression and otherwise allow him to normalize his atrocities," a spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam told Reuters.

Vietnam's Foreign Ministry did not respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

North Korea could send up to 5 million artillery shells to Russia, Seoul says
Seoul spotted at least 10,000 containers being shipped from North Korea to Russia, South Korea’s Defense Minister Shin Won-sik said. Pyongyang also sent dozens of ballistic missiles that Moscow troops launch against Ukraine, he added.

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