Putin set to meet with Kim

Aides to Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed on Monday that he will make a visit this week to North Korea. They say he will meet with leader Kim Jong Un to discuss ways to strengthen their military alliance.

Putin will follow through on an invitation Kim extended when they met last September at a spaceport in Russia's Far East. He will be making his first visit to North Korea since he traveled there in 2000, the year he took power.

Putin's aides say he will arrive late Tuesday and will be joined by his foreign and defense ministers and other senior officials. He is scheduled to meet with Kim the next day. They are expected to tighten economic and security ties and sign an agreement on a comprehensive strategic partnership.

Western leaders have seen Russian forces deplete their arsenal during more than two years of fighting in Ukraine. They have accused the North Koreans of helping to fill that gap with ballistic missiles and other munitions.

South Korean intelligence analysts say, in return, the Russians are supporting efforts to put another spy satellite into orbit. The North Koreans have promised to send up three satellites this year. However, they failed in an attempt last month.

A Russian diplomatic analyst says Putin wants to demonstrate his ties with Kim ahead of the NATO summit next month focused on Ukraine. "As Western countries increase the pressure on Russia, it is trying to rely on countries that are not under Western influence," said Vladimir Evseev of the Institute of CIS countries.

Putin will head on to Hanoi later on Wednesday. He is set to meet with the Secretary General of the Vietnamese Communist Party, Nguyen Phu Trong. They are expected to discuss trade, as well as regional and international affairs.