Vladimir Putin has accepted an invitation to visit North Korea, Pyongyang state media said Thursday, as he and Kim Jong Un toasted “cooperation and friendship between our countries” during a meeting in Russia. Kim is on a visit to Russia’s far east, as Putin seeks to bolster alliances with other leaders ostracised by Western countries. The North Korean leader is also due to oversee a display of Russian warships during his visit. Follow our live blog for all the latest developments on the war in Ukraine. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).
03:30am: South Korea expresses concern over N.Korea-Russia military cooperation
South Korea’s unification minister in charge of relations with the North has expressed concern over military cooperation between North Korea and Russia, Yonhap news agency reported on Thursday.
Kim Young-ho’s remarks came a day after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met with President Vladimir Putin in Russia’s Far East and discussed military matters, the war in Ukraine and possible Russian help for the North’s satellite programme.
02:45am: Kim invites Putin to North Korea as he continues Russia visit
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to his country during their talks in Russia, state media reported on Thursday, with Kim expected to continue his trip with visits to military production facilities.
Putin accepted the invitation, state news agency KCNA said, without mentioning when any visit might take place.
Kim told Putin the meeting in Russia’s Far East brought bilateral ties to a new level, and expressed his willingness to foster stable, future-oriented relations for the next 100 years, KCNA said.
The invitation from Kim for Putin to visit the North came at the end of a reception hosted by the Kremlin chief after they toured the Vostochny Cosmodrome space center and held talks on bilateral ties and boosting cooperation, KCNA said.
“At the end of the reception, Kim Jong Un courteously invited Putin to visit the DPRK at a convenient time,” KCNA said, referring to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s formal name.
“Putin accepted the invitation with pleasure and reaffirmed his will to invariably carry forward the history and tradition of the Russia-DPRK friendship,” it said.
02:30am: Ukrainian drones downed in Russia’s Bryansk, Belgorod regions, says Russian media
Russian anti-aircraft units downed Ukrainian drones overnight in two regions of southern Russia, Bryansk and Belgorod, the Russian military and news agencies reported on Thursday.
Russian news agencies, quoting local officials and the Defence Ministry, said five drones had been downed over Bryansk region and one over Belgorod region. No casualties or damage were reported. Both regions border Ukraine.
01:50am: US ambassador visits American imprisoned for espionage
Russia met Wednesday with imprisoned American Paul Whelan, who is serving a 16-year sentence on an espionage conviction that both Washington and Whelan dispute.
Ambassador Lynne Tracy traveled to the prison colony about 350 kilometers (220 miles) east of Moscow where Whelan is held, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.
“We believe Paul continues to show tremendous courage in the face of his wrongful detention. Ambassador Tracy reiterated to him that President Biden and Secretary (of State Antony) Blinken are committed to bringing him home,” he said.
The 53-year-old Whelan, a corporate security director and former Marine, was detained in Moscow in 2018 and convicted in 2020.
Another American jailed in Russia is Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was arrested March 29 and accused of trying to obtain classified information.
Gershkovich is the first US correspondent since the Cold War to be detained in Russia on spying charges, which his family and the newspaper vehemently deny.
Key developments from Wednesday, September 13:
The Wall Street Journal’s parent company on Tuesday requested that a UN panel of experts declare its correspondent Evan Gershkovich, who is in Russian jail, as being “arbitrarily detained”.
Russia has significantly raised its inflation forecast for the next two years and expects a much weaker rouble rate against the US dollar, according to macroeconomic forecasts prepared by the economy ministry, as the costs of fighting the war in Ukraine mount.
A Ukrainian military spy agency official said on Wednesday that an overnight attack on the Crimean port of Sevastopol, home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, had struck a large Russian landing ship and a submarine.
Ukraine’s military said its forces had struck naval targets and port infrastructure on Wednesday in the bay of the Crimean port of Sevastopol, home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.
EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday that Ukraine has made “great strides” in its quest for EU membership, as Kyiv presses to open accession talks this year.
Read yesterday’s blog to see how the day’s events unfolded.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)