North Korean leader Kim Jong Un embarked on a significant visit to Russia, where he inspected an array of military assets alongside President Vladimir Putin’s defense minister.
The visit was centered around the display of Russian nuclear-capable strategic bombers, hypersonic missiles, and warships, raising concerns in the United States and South Korea regarding potential technology transfer and support for Russia’s activities in Ukraine.
Kim’s arrival at Russia’s Knevichi airfield, located approximately 50 kilometers from Vladivostok, was met with a warm welcome from Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who saluted the North Korean leader.
Following this, Kim reviewed a guard of honor, with smiles indicating a sense of camaraderie.
Of particular interest to Kim were Russia’s strategic bombers, including the Tu-160, Tu-95, and Tu-22M3, all capable of carrying nuclear payloads and serving as the core of Russia’s nuclear air attack capabilities.
Shoigu proudly emphasized their operational range, including the ability to fly from Moscow to Japan and back.
Kim inquired about the missile launch mechanisms from these aircraft, displaying curiosity and nods of understanding.
Shoigu also introduced Kim to the MiG-31I supersonic interceptor aircraft equipped with “Kinzhal” hypersonic missiles, an air-launched ballistic missile with a range of 1,500 to 2,000 kilometers and the potential to carry nuclear or conventional warheads at astounding speeds, up to ten times the speed of sound.
After inspecting aircraft and missiles, Kim proceeded to review a warship from Russia’s Pacific fleet in Vladivostok, where he was scheduled to witness a demonstration by the Russian navy.
However, South Korea and the United States expressed concerns over the violation of U.N. sanctions by military cooperation between North Korea and Russia, vowing consequences for these actions.
Moscow, on the other hand, has publicly emphasized Kim’s visit, hinting at the possibility of military collaboration, which could indirectly bolster Russia’s artillery support in the Ukraine conflict, further heightening tensions with the West.
While Washington has accused North Korea of supplying arms to Russia, it remains unclear whether any such deliveries have occurred. Kim’s visit also included an inspection of a Russian fighter jet factory under Western sanctions.
Despite discussions between Kim and Putin regarding military matters and the Ukraine conflict, Russia insisted it would not breach any agreements but was committed to deepening relations with North Korea. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov clarified that there were no plans to formalize agreements during the visit.
Russian diplomats contended that the United States had no grounds to criticize Moscow, citing Washington’s support for its allies worldwide, including the presence of a U.S. nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarine in South Korea in July.