Wagner Group issue statement after death of Yevgeny Prigozhin
Kim Jong-un is taking a train into Russia to meet Vladimir Putin as he may be “paranoid” about flying in after the Wagner Group plane incident, an analyst told Daily Express US.
The dictator is expected to ride aboard a bulletproof train on a 426-mile journey from Pyongyang to the Pacific port city of Vladivostok this month.
He rarely leaves his own country, but when he does it is usually via a Russian-made private jet.
North Korea’s supreme leader may now be “paranoid” about this method of travel after Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s plane mysteriously crashed en route from Moscow to St Petersburg, killing ten members of the private military group.
Matthew Shoemaker, a military commentator and former DIA intelligence officer, told Daily Express US: “As Prigozhin’s death the other week showed, it is a lot easier to destroy an airplane than it is to sabotage a train and to sabotage it to such an extent that it actually kills the people on board.
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“From that perspective, Kim Jong-un is clearly right that taking a train would be a lot safer [than a plane].”
Prigozhin’s private business jet plunged into the ground of the Tver region more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Moscow last month.
Initial reports suggested the plane was downed by a Russian surface-to-air missile. And US and Western officials say the plane was likely brought down by an intentional explosion.
A Russian Investigative Committee is looking into the circumstances, but the Kremlin has poured cold water on calls for the International Civil Aviation Organization to investigate.
With the details still unconfirmed, Kim may deem it a risky step to cross over into Russian airspace, it is suggested.
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That the hermit Kingdom’s ruler is leaving the country at all has come as a shock to Shoemaker.
He said: “I’m genuinely surprised that Kim Jong-un is actually leaving North Korea. He does not travel outside of the country very much at all.
“There is clearly a certain amount of paranoia from the Kim family not just with regard to flying on airplanes as such. There is a heightened sense of paranoia that their regime’s stability is not secure.
“This tends to happen in a lot of authoritarian regimes. They are always terrified that there is a fifth column operating in the shadows that is waiting to take them down.”
The meeting comes as Moscow and Pyongyang continue to cozy up amid the Ukraine war while the West condemns both nations.
The Kremlin’s defence industry has been heavily sanctioned for its illegal invasion, while analysts speculated about whether Putin’s men are running low on high-precision ammunition after relentless missile barrages.
Declassified American intelligence appeared to back up these claims. It revealed that Russia had been buying millions of artillery shells and rockets from North Korea, suggesting sanctions and war have battered its supply chains.
But John R. Bryson, professor of enterprise and economic geography at Birmingham University, told Daily Express US that Kim may have little else to offer.
He said: “Russia’s ongoing military cooperation with North Korea is an example of Putin’s desperation. North Korea is not an innovator in terms of military technology. North Korea can provide Russia with weapons, but of what quality and quantity?
“There are also dangers for Putin in Russia becoming too aligned with North Korea. What could be forming is an alliance of rogue states.”
Paul Bracken, professor of management and political science at the Yale School of Management, is more concerned about Pyongyang’s offerings.
He told Daily Express US: “There will be huge consequences: evading sanctions; sell ammo, drones, and landmines; and allow key specialists to help build their national programs. A Russian missile engineer can more easily go to North Korea to consult now.”
Shoemaker agreed that Moscow will likely ask Pyongyang for “more ammunition and more military kit from the North Koreans”.
Russia’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu visited North Korea last month, observing banned ballistic missiles alongside Kim at a military expo in Pyongyang.
Shoigu said in a statement released by Russia’s defence ministry following the meeting: “I am convinced that today’s talks will help strengthen cooperation between our defence agencies.”
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