(Moscow) North Korean leader Kim Jong-un arrived Friday morning in Komsomolsk-on-Amur in the Russian Far East to visit an aeronautical factory, continuing his trip to Russia, a country that Washington suspects of wanting buy weapons from Pyongyang to support its assault on Ukraine.
On Wednesday, during his first official trip abroad since the COVID-19 pandemic, the leader of Pyongyang met Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Vostochny cosmodrome (East), with the aim of strengthening ties between their two countries, notably military.
For the moment, nothing has been officially communicated about a possible agreement for the delivery of equipment or military collaboration between the two countries, isolated and under international sanctions.
“Kim Jong-un arrived by train at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur railway station,” said the Russian public press agency TASS, where he was welcomed by the governor of the Khabarovsk region, Mikhail Degtiarev. , according to the Interfax agency.
Kim Jong-un then visited the Yuri Gagarin aircraft factory of the Sukhoi manufacturer where Su-35 and Su-57 fighter jets are produced, TASS reported. Interfax for its part indicated that the North Korean official was to visit a company in the aviation sector producing “military and civilian equipment”.
On Thursday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov announced that Kim Jong-un’s trip to Russia was expected to last “a few more days”, without giving further details.
According to Mr. Putin, Kim Jong-un was to go to Komsomolsk-on-Amur to visit factories producing “civil and military” aeronautical equipment, before attending a military “demonstration” of the Fleet Russian Pacific in Vladivostok, where the two men had already met in 2019
Meeting with Mr. Putin on Wednesday, Kim Jong-un said rapprochement with Moscow would be the “top priority” of North Korean foreign policy.
The Russian president, who accepted an invitation from Kim Jong-un to visit North Korea, for his part praised the “future strengthening of cooperation” with this country, evoking “prospects” of military cooperation despite the sanctions international attacks targeting Pyongyang because of its nuclear programs and missiles under development.
Washington expressed “concern,” saying Russia was interested in purchasing North Korean munitions to support its military operations in Ukraine, launched in February 2022.
Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un also gave each other a rifle during their meeting, the Kremlin said on Thursday, gifts which appear to be highly symbolic.
After turning to Iran to supply hundreds of explosive drones, Moscow could find useful resources from Pyongyang, which has large stockpiles of Soviet equipment and mass produces conventional weapons.
“Moscow needs imports to maintain the current level of operational intensity of its war effort over the long term,” the German Council on Foreign Relations observed in a study published last week.
On Thursday, the White House said National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan discussed the Putin-Kim meeting with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts.
“They stressed that any arms export […] would be a direct violation of several United Nations Security Council resolutions,” detailed a press release.
The 122 mm caliber rockets intended for the BM-21 “Grad” multiple rocket launchers (MLRS) from the Soviet era, which equip Russian forces in Ukraine and appear in the North Korean arsenal, are particularly likely to be of 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 construction of satellites, after two recent failures by North Korea to place a military spy satellite in orbit, but also proposed sending a North Korean cosmonaut into space, according to intelligence agencies. Russian press, which would be a first for the country.