North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who is on a visit to Russia, held discussions with the country’s defence minister regarding strengthening “strategic and tactical coordination” between the militaries of both countries, the North’s state media said on Sunday (September 17).
The talks with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu came after Kim inspected some of Russia’s most advanced weapons systems deployed in its war against Ukraine, which also include nuclear-capable bombers and hypersonic missiles, the Korean Central News Agency said.
Kim's trip, highlighted by a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday (September 13), has underscored how their interests are aligning in the face of separate, intensifying confrontations with the West.
The US and South Korean officials have expressed apprehensions that North Korea may provide munitions for Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine in exchange for sophisticated Russian weapons technology for Kim’s nuclear ambitions.
Kim’s primary focus during his visit is on military cooperation, he also appears to be using his trip to Russia to boost broader exchanges between both nations as he attempts to demolish diplomatic isolation. The governor of Russia's Primorye region, which includes Vladivostok, said he plans to meet with Kim on Sunday.
According to the Russian media, Kim may also visit food industry businesses in Primorye.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Saturday (September 16) arrived in Russia’s far eastern port of Vladivostok and inspected nuclear-capable bombers and warplanes.
After arriving in the city of Artyom by train, Kim traveled to an airport just outside the seaside city of Vladivostok where Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and other senior military officials gave him an up-close look at Russia's strategic bombers and other warplanes.
All the Russian warplanes shown to Kim were among those that have been used in the war against Ukraine, including the Tu-160, Tu-95 and Tu-22 bombers.
Kim’s visit to Russia has sparked Western concerns about an arms alliance to aid Russian President Vladimir Putin in the war against Ukraine. Kim’s visit to Russia comes amid a momentum in military cooperation between the countries in which North Korea could trade munitions in exchange for Russian technologies to advance his military nuclear programme.
Kim was expected to see Russian naval ships of the country's Pacific fleet later in Vladivostok, which triggered another speculation regarding what he aims to do in Russia. Kim also visited a factory manufacturing advanced Russian warplanes on Friday.
In recent months, Kim has stressed on the necessity to boost his navy aiming to counter the advanced naval assets of the United States which has been expanding its combined military exercises with South Korea to keep a check on the North’s growing threat.
(With AP inputs)