Three days after his meeting with Vladimir Putin at the Vostochny cosmodrome, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Saturday in Vladivostok, in the Russian Far East, where he reviewed Russian advanced weapons, including a hypersonic missile system.
Kim Jong-un, who is making his first foreign trip to Russia since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, arrived at Knevichi airport in Vladivostok from Komsomolsk-on-Amur, where he visited aircraft factories on Friday, Tass said.
At the Knevichi air base, Kim Jong-un was greeted by Sergei Shoigu who presented him with a MiG-31 fighter and its Kinjal hypersonic missile system, according to the same source. The North Korean leader also reviewed Tu-160, Tu-95MS and Tu-22M3 bombers.
“These aircraft constitute the air component of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces,” the Defense Ministry emphasized in a statement. According to images released by Moscow, Kim Jong-un listened attentively to senior representatives of the Russian army.
The North Korean leader was able to examine advanced Russian weapons, including a hypersonic missile system. He will still be in Russia on Sunday to discuss with the authorities in Vladivostok on the development of his country's relations with the region, assured the regional Russian governor, quoted by the Ria Novosti news agency.
On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Kim Jong-un would attend a “demonstration” of the Russian Pacific Fleet in Vladivostok. In this large city on the borders of Russia, located near the Chinese and North Korean borders, Kim Jong-un boarded the Russian warship Marshal Chapochnikov, where he was welcomed by the commander of the frigate.
Also on board, the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian fleet, Nikolai Yevmenov, briefed the North Korean leader on the characteristics of the ship and its anti-submarine weapons, “quadruple torpedo tubes and RBU rocket launchers -6000,” TASS reported.
Later in Vladivostok, Kim Jong-un is also “to visit the Far Eastern Federal University and certain facilities of the Russian Academy of Sciences, whose laboratories work on marine biology,” Putin detailed on television. Russian.
The Russian president and the North Korean leader met Wednesday at the Vostochny cosmodrome, nearly 8,000 kilometers east of Moscow. Arriving in Russia on Tuesday, Kim Jong-un invited Putin to visit North Korea soon, but no agreement has been signed between the two countries, according to Russian presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.
Westerners suspect Moscow of wanting to buy weapons from Pyongyang for the conflict in Ukraine. North Korea, for its part, is suspected of wanting to acquire technologies for its nuclear and missile programs.
During their meeting, the two leaders mutually offered each other a rifle, gifts seen as symbolic given Western fears. The two men displayed their closeness, Kim Jong-un ensuring that rapprochement with Moscow was an “absolute priority” of foreign policy, while Putin praised the “strengthening” of their cooperation.
The Russian head of state notably mentioned “prospects” of military cooperation despite international sanctions targeting Pyongyang because of its nuclear and missile development programs. Washington had expressed “concern” about the possible purchase of North Korean munitions, and Seoul had “strongly warned” against any such transaction.
After turning to Iran to deliver hundreds of explosive drones, Russia could find useful resources in Pyongyang, which has large stockpiles of Soviet equipment and mass produces conventional weapons. Particularly susceptible are 122 mm rockets for the USSR-era BM-21 “Grad” Multiple Launch Rocket Launcher (MLRS), which equip Russian forces in Ukraine and are in the North Korean arsenal. to interest Russia.
In exchange, Pyongyang could be provided with Russian oil and food, and even access to space technologies. Moscow has discussed possible aid in the manufacture of satellites, after the failure of two recent attempts by North Korea to place a military spy satellite in orbit, but has also proposed sending a North Korean cosmonaut into space , wrote Russian news agencies, which would constitute a first for this country.