Kim Jong Un has departed the North Korean capital aboard his heavily-armored private train, North Korean state media KCNA said Tuesday, as Pyongyang and Moscow confirmed a meeting will soon take place with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Images released by the North Korean news agency shows Kim walking down a red carpet at a Pyongyang station and boarding the green train surrounded by officials. A crowd of onlookers can be seen cheering in the background and waving flags.

The summit, expected to take place in the far eastern Russian city of Vladivostok, comes amid warnings from the United States that the two leaders could strike an arms deal. The US government said last week that such a meeting could take place as part of Russias efforts to find new suppliers for weapons to use in its war against Ukraine.

Neither country has specified when or where the visit would take place, nor what would be on the agenda of any potential face-to-face. The Kremlin said in a statement Monday that Kim would pay an official visit to Russia in the coming days, while North Korean state media said they would meet and have a talk.

Putin reportedly arrived in Vladivostok on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to state TV Russia 24. And the city is where Kim and Putin met for the first time in April 2019.

Kim is also being accompanied by senior party officials, as well as members of the government and armed forces KCNA reported.

A rare trip for Kim

The visit will be Kims first foreign trip since the Covid-19 pandemic. With its borders sealed because of that for much of the past three years, North Korea has only recently begun to relax travel restrictions.

It will also be only Kims 10th trip since assuming power in 2011. All of those came in 2018 and 2019, as the North Korean leader engaged in negotiations over his nuclear weapons and missile programs in three meetings with then-US President Donald Trump one in Singapore, one in Hanoi and one in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating North and South Korea.

Kim also made four trips to China over those two years to meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. The remaining trip was to the DMZ in 2018 to meet with then-South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Vladivostok lies 130 km (80 miles) from the border with North Korea.

The North Korea leader is said to prefer traveling in an upscale armored train as did his father before him but rail travel accounts for less than half of his foreign trips. Three of this nine trips have been made in planes and two, both to the DMZ, by car.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also visited Pyongyang in July in an attempt to convince it to sell artillery ammunition.

Washingtons warning

Last Tuesday, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan warned that North Korea it will pay a price if it strikes an arms deal with Russia, though he did not elaborate on these potential repercussions.

North Korea is already under United Nations and US sanctions imposed over Pyongyangs weapons of mass destruction program.

The potential Putin-Kim meeting could lead to Pyongyang getting its hands on the sort of weapons those sanctions have barred it from accessing for two decades, especially for its nuclear-capable ballistic missile program.

It also comes after more than a year and a half of war in Ukraine has left the Russian military battered, depleted and in need of supplies.

Following Mondays announcement from both countries, the White House urged North Korea to not provide or sell arms to Russia.

As we have warned publicly, arms discussions between Russia and the DPRK are expected to continue during Kim Jong-Uns trip to Russia, said National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson in response to Russia and North Koreas announcement.

The statement also urged the country to abide by the public commitments that Pyongyang has made to not provide or sell arms to Russia.

After reports emerged of North Korean arms sales to Russia in September 2022, a North Korean Defense Ministry official said at the time that Pyongyang had never exported weapons or ammunition to Russia before and we will not plan to export them.