North Korean (North Korea) leader Kim Jong-un received a briefing while inspecting a Russian warship. Photo/ABC News
VLADIVOSTOK – North Korean (North Korea) leader Kim Jong-un arrived in Vladivostok on Saturday local time. Accompanied by the Russian Minister of Defense (Menhan), Sergei Shoigu, the North Korean leader carried out an inspection of the Russian hypersonic missile system before boarding the warship.
Kim Jong-un’s first official trip abroad since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked concerns among Western countries that Moscow and Pyongyang may be involved in arms trafficking despite sanctions.
There is speculation that Moscow may be interested in purchasing North Korean munitions for the conflict in Ukraine, while Pyongyang seeks Russian help in advancing its missile program.
Russian news agency TASS reported that upon arrival in Vladivostok, which is near the border of China and Russia, Kim Jong-un received a warm welcome from Shoigu and an honor guard.
“At the Knevichi airfield, Shoigu showed Kim the Kinzhal missile system on a MiG-31I aircraft carrier, whose flying and technical capabilities were explained to Kim by a top military official,” TASS reported as quoted by DW, Sunday (17/9/2023) .
The itinerary is also expected to include visits to the Russian Pacific Fleet, the Far Eastern Federal University and the marine biology laboratory at the Russian Academy of Sciences, which has historically accepted students from North Korea.
Kim’s visit to Russia’s far east began on Tuesday. He met with President Vladimir Putin and visited the fighter jet factory at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur engineering center.
After their meeting at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, some 8,000 kilometers from Moscow on Wednesday, Putin expressed optimism about increasing cooperation with North Korea, including possible military ties.
Both North Korea and Russia are subject to extensive international sanctions due to the conflict in Ukraine and Pyongyang’s nuclear tests.