Putin meets leader of Belarus, who suggests boosting his own ties with North Korea

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko shaking hands Russian President Vladimir Putin
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, left, greets Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting in Sochi, Russia, on Friday.
(Mikhail Metzel / Kremlin Pool Photo)
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Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted a meeting Friday with his Belarusian counterpart and staunch ally, who suggested that Minsk could join Moscow’s efforts to revive an old alliance with North Korea after this week’s summit between Putin and Kim Jong Un.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko made the proposal as he met with Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, where Putin said he would brief Lukashenko about his talks with Kim on Wednesday at Russia’s Vostochny spaceport in the Far East.

“I would like to inform you about the discussion on the situation in the region, which was quite important, and also to touch on the most acute issue, the situation in Ukraine,” Putin said at the start of the meeting.


Lukashenko responded by saying that “we could think about three-way cooperation,” adding that “I think a bit of work could be found for Belarus to do there as well.”

Kim on Friday continued his visit to Russia by touring an aircraft factory in Komsomolsk-on-Amur to see the latest Russian fighter jets. On Saturday, he is scheduled to arrive in the port of Vladivostok, where he is expected to see Russian Pacific fleet warships and visit a university.

The U.S. and its allies believe that Kim will probably supply ammunition to Russia for use in Ukraine in exchange for receiving advanced weapons or technology from Moscow, a deal that would violate United Nations sanctions that ban any arms trade with North Korea.

Russian authorities say a Ukrainian attack on a Black Sea shipyard in Crimea wounded 24 people, damaged two ships and caused a fire at the facility.

Sept. 13, 2023

Putin said after meeting Kim that Russia would abide by the U.N. sanctions, and he reaffirmed that pledge Friday.

“We never violate anything, and in this case we have no intention to violate anything,” he told reporters. “But we certainly will look for opportunities for developing Russian-North Korean relations.”

Putin’s meeting with Lukashenko was their seventh this year. Lukashenko, who has relied on Russian subsidies and political support to rule his former Soviet republic with an iron hand for nearly three decades, allowed the Kremlin to use Belarusian territory to send troops into Ukraine in February 2022.


While Belarus has continued to host Russian troops, Lukashenko has maintained that his country will not join the fighting.

“Lukashenko demonstrates that Belarus only wants to be a military hub for Russia and profit on that to compensate for the closure of Western markets and the sanctions, but it doesn’t want to send its soldiers to die in Ukraine,” said Belarusian analyst Valery Karbalevich.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces recaptured a war-ravaged settlement in the country’s embattled east, Kyiv’s military leaders said Friday, a small territorial win in a churning counteroffensive marked so far by small victories but no major breakthroughs.

The taking of the village of Andriivka, six miles south of the Russian-occupied city of Bakhmut, underscores just how difficult Ukraine’s multipronged counteroffensive is shaping up to be.

In the east and the south, Ukraine is reporting minimal territorial gains after months of intense fighting and heavy losses. Despite being bolstered by NATO-standard weapons worth billions of dollars, Ukrainian military officials have said there are no quick solutions to puncture Russian defensive lines — only slow, grinding battles.

Ukraine’s strategy appears to be to spread Russian forces thin across multiple directions along the front line, from vast agricultural tracts in the east to the Dnipro River, which marks the line of contact in the south, in hopes that Ukrainian troops can exploit their opponents’ vulnerabilities.