Friday, May 24

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Tours Russian Fighter Jet Plant Amidst Arms Deal Speculations

North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, recently made a visit to a Russian fighter jet plant, triggering speculations about potential arms deals between the two nations.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in the Russian industrial city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur to visit a military aviation factory on Friday, according to reports from Russian agencies. This visit comes shortly after his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Both Russia and North Korea are facing global sanctions, with Russia’s sanctions related to its conflict in Ukraine and North Korea’s stemming from its nuclear tests. Kim’s visit has raised concerns among Ukraine’s allies, as they fear the possibility of arms agreements between Russia and North Korea.

 

North Korea's Kim Jong Un Tours Russian Fighter Jet Plant Amidst Arms Deal Speculations
North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Tours Russian Fighter Jet Plant Amidst Arms Deal Speculations

 

Just two days after his meeting with Putin at a spaceport, Kim’s bullet-proof train arrived in Komsomolsk-on-Amur in Russia’s far east. He was greeted with a welcoming ceremony that included flowers, music, a dance group, and ceremonial loaves of bread, as reported by the Interfax agency.

Kim, who rarely travels outside his own country, is in this key Russian industrial center to visit a military and civil aviation firm. Pyongyang is seeking Moscow’s assistance in developing its missile program, while U.S. officials and experts have expressed concerns that Russia may be interested in purchasing North Korean ammunition for use in Ukraine.

According to the TASS news agency, Kim Jong Un visited an aviation plant named after Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who was the first person in space. This plant is known for producing Russia’s Sukhoi Su-35 and Su-57 fighter aircraft.

Upon the arrival of Kim’s train in Russia on Tuesday, after departing from Pyongyang on Sunday, a significant gesture was made. Kim was gifted a signed photo of Yuri Gagarin at the border, marking a symbolic connection to the pioneering figure in space exploration.

During their talks at the Vostochny cosmodrome, Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin discussed various aspects of their visit and cooperation. Putin announced on television that Kim would be visiting factories in Komsomolsk-on-Amur where both civilian and combat aviation equipment is manufactured.

Additionally, Kim was set to oversee a display of Russian warships in the far east port of Vladivostok, showcasing the capabilities of the Pacific Fleet. He also planned to visit the Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok and the Russian Academy of Sciences, including marine biology laboratories.

The Kremlin confirmed that Kim’s visit to the far east would extend for several more days, as noted by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Thursday. Moreover, it was revealed that Putin had accepted Kim’s invitation to visit North Korea in the future.

During their summit, Putin presented Kim with a high-quality rifle produced in Russia, and in return, he received a North Korean-made rifle. As a gesture of goodwill, Putin also gifted the North Korean leader a glove from a space suit that had been to space on multiple occasions. This exchange of symbolic gifts highlighted the diplomatic interactions and cooperation between the two leaders.

Moscow is making swift preparations for Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s visit to Pyongyang, which is expected to take place in October, according to Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov. This visit is intended to precede a potential visit by President Vladimir Putin to North Korea. It would be Putin’s second trip to North Korea, with his first visit occurring in July 2000, shortly after he became president.

In recent years, Russia has faced increasing isolation from Western countries due to its actions in Ukraine, prompting Putin to seek to strengthen alliances reminiscent of the Soviet era.

Kim Jong Un’s visit to Russia marks his first official trip abroad since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Both Russia and North Korea are subject to numerous sanctions, and Kim’s visit has raised concerns about potential illicit arms agreements.

Kim is accompanied by a delegation with a strong military presence, and top Russian military officials were also involved in the talks with Putin. Following the summit, Putin mentioned the possibility of military cooperation between the two nations.

Western countries have expressed warnings to both Moscow and Pyongyang against engaging in arms deals, especially as the conflict in Ukraine continues. The White House stated that US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan discussed the Putin-Kim meeting with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts, emphasizing that any arms exports from North Korea to Russia would directly violate multiple UN Security Council resolutions, including those that Russia itself had voted to adopt. This raises concerns and adds complexity to the diplomatic landscape surrounding the meeting.


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