A view of the far-eastern Russian port of Vladivostok from an observation point on April 23, 2019.
A view of the far-eastern Russian port of Vladivostok from an observation point on April 23, 2019.

SEOUL - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is due to travel this week to the far-eastern Russian city of Vladivostok for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Kremlin on Tuesday confirmed the two leaders are meeting on Thursday.

Kim is expected to push Putin for sanctions relief amid stalled nuclear talks with the United States.

Over the past year, Kim Jong Un has held high-profile summits with U.S. President Donald Trump as well as the leaders of Vietnam. China, and South Korea.

"What this has mainly done is give Kim some international credibility. I mean he was a pariah a year ago. And now he's everybody's prom date, everyone wants to be seen with him on their arm," Ralph Cossa of the Pacific Forum told VOA via Skype.

FILE - A combination of file photos shows North Ko
FILE - A combination of file photos shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, March 2, 2019, and Russia's President Vladimir Putin during a joint news conference in Sochi, Krasnodar region, Russia, May 16, 2013.

 

Kim wants relief from painful U.N. sanctions that remain in place after nuclear talks with the United States broke down.

Putin may not provide much help. With his own economy hurting, North Korea is not seen as a top priority.

But the summit could help reduce North Korea’s reliance on China, its biggest trading partner.

"I think he's just trying to cover all his options. You know, North Korea has historically survived by playing Russia against China, and playing everyone against everyone else," Cossa said.

Flags of Russia and North Korea are seen fixed on
Flags of Russia and North Korea are seen fixed on lamp posts on Russky island in the far-eastern Russian port of Vladivostok on April 23, 2019.

Residents in the port city of Vladivostok are excited to host the meeting.

“I believe they will come to some agreement," said a resident of Vladivostok. "It is pretty scary when you hear all the time about nuclear testings, because Vladivostok is just a couple hundred kilometers away from North Korea’s testing sites.”

But it’s not clear how the meeting will help break the deadlock between Kim and Trump.

Kim and Trump have held two summits as part of an ongoing effort to denuclearize North Korea, but the efforts have stalled.