North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has concluded a remarkable six-day visit to Russia, emphasizing military cooperation and strengthening ties with President Vladimir Putin. This visit has raised concerns in the West, suggesting that Pyongyang might supply Moscow with weapons amid the Ukraine conflict.
Kim’s visit to Russia’s Far East, commencing on Tuesday, has placed significant emphasis on military collaboration. Notable events during his visit include a symbolic exchange of rifles with Putin and an inspection of advanced Russian weaponry.
Kim’s first official trip abroad since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic has triggered apprehensions that Russia and North Korea may disregard Western sanctions to facilitate an arms deal. Such an agreement could potentially aid the Kremlin’s ongoing activities in Ukraine.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in televised comments, expressed Russia’s commitment to cooperation with North Korea, despite UN sanctions. He clarified that Russia did not impose sanctions against North Korea; it was a decision by the United Nations Security Council. Lavrov stated Russia’s intention to engage in equal and fair interaction with North Korea.
Before leaving Vladivostok, a Pacific port city near the border, Kim received distinctive gifts from the governor of the Primorye region. These included five explosive drones, a reconnaissance drone, and a bulletproof vest.
During his visit, Kim also explored the Far Eastern State University and enjoyed a walrus show at a local oceanarium, showcasing a more relaxed side of the North Korean leader.
Russian Natural Resources Minister Alexander Kozlov, accompanying Kim during the visit, mentioned that a substantial amount was discussed. While there was no specific mention of military agreements, discussions did revolve around increasing grain supplies and resuming regular air travel. The two nations also explored the revival of long-pending infrastructure projects.
Officials from both countries have agreed to convene in Pyongyang in November, indicating a commitment to further discussions and diplomacy.
Russia and North Korea, historical allies, are both subject to extensive global sanctions. Russia faces sanctions due to its Ukraine offensive, while North Korea’s sanctions relate to its nuclear weapon tests.
During the visit, Kim met Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and inspected advanced Russian weaponry, including a hypersonic missile system. They were seen smiling as they inspected Russian nuclear bombers and boarded a warship.
North Korean news agency KCNA later published images of Kim enjoying vodka toasts with Shoigu and their respective delegations, fostering a sense of camaraderie.
The meeting between Putin and Kim at Russia’s Vostochny cosmodrome highlighted the potential for increased cooperation, including military ties. While Moscow may be interested in North Korean ammunition, Pyongyang seeks assistance in its missile program, which has faced international condemnation.
However, the Kremlin has clarified that no signed agreements exist or will be forthcoming.
KCNA described Kim’s visit as “fervent and warm,” signaling a “new era of friendship, solidarity, and cooperation” between North Korea and Russia. Additionally, Putin accepted an invitation to visit North Korea and extended an offer to send a North Korean into space, marking potential milestones in their relationship.
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Source: India Today