SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stopped in a city in Russia’s Far East on Friday to tour a factory that builds the country’s most advanced fighter jets during his extensive trip, drawing warnings from Moscow and Pyongyang from entering into prohibited arms transfer transactions.
Kim’s visits to Russian weapons and technology sites and meetings with President Vladimir Putin have led to speculation that he will provide Russia with ammunition for its war effort in Ukraine in return for receiving advanced weapons or technology from Russia as the two nations strengthen their ties deepen as both countries become increasingly isolated and sanctioned in separate confrontations with the West.
Russian state news agency RIA Novosti released a video showing Kim’s armored train pulling into a train station in the city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur and Kim’s convoy leaving the station shortly afterwards. The TASS news agency said Kim and local Russian officials were on their way to a factory that makes Su-35 and Su-57 fighter jets.
Kim will travel alongside Vladivostok to tour Russia’s Pacific fleet, a university and other facilities, Putin told Russian media after his summit with Kim.
Experts believe that in return for helping Putin replenish his war supplies, Kim would seek Russian help in modernizing his air force and navy, which are inferior to those of rival South Korea, while Kim uses much of his own resources for spent on its nuclear weapons program.
The summit between Kim and Putin took place this week at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia’s main domestic launch center. North Korea has struggled to launch an operational spy satellite to monitor U.S. and South Korean military movements.
When asked whether Russia would help North Korea procure satellites, Putin said: “That’s why we came here.” (Kim) shows great interest in missile technology. They are also trying to develop space,” Russian state media said.
Putin, for his part, wants to receive ammunition, artillery shells and even ballistic missiles from North Korea to replenish his depleted weapons stockpile in the second year of Russia’s war in Ukraine, foreign experts say.
Since last year, the United States has accused North Korea of supplying Russia with ammunition, artillery shells and rockets, most of which were probably copies of Soviet-era munitions. South Korean officials said North Korean weapons supplied to Russia have already been used in Ukraine.
On Thursday evening, the national security advisers of the United States, South Korea and Japan held a telephone conversation and expressed “serious concerns” about possible arms deals between Russia and North Korea. They warned Russia and North Korea that they would “pay a clear price” if they struck such deals, according to the South Korean presidential office.
The White House said the three national security advisers determined that any arms export from North Korea to Russia would directly violate several U.N. Security Council resolutions, including resolutions that Russia itself voted to adopt as a permanent member of the U.N. Council. According to a statement from the White House, they reaffirmed their cooperation in the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
South Korean Unification Minister Kim Yung-ho warned Thursday that possible arms transfers between the North and Russia would lead to stronger responses from South Korea, the United States and Japan, which have stepped up trilateral security cooperation to deal with regional threats.
Some analysts question the extent to which Russia would be willing to share its closely guarded high-tech weapons technologies with North Korea in return for its conventional weapons. But others say Russia is doing this because it urgently needs to replenish its depleted reserves.
Putin told reporters that Russia and North Korea had “many interesting projects” in areas such as transportation and agriculture and that Moscow was providing humanitarian aid to its neighbor. However, he avoided talking about military cooperation, saying only that Russia was abiding by sanctions that ban the acquisition of weapons from North Korea.
North Korea’s state media said Thursday that Kim had invited Putin to visit North Korea at an “appropriate time.” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov later said Putin had accepted the invitation and that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was expected to visit North Korea in October.
During Wednesday’s summit, Kim vowed “full and unconditional support” to Putin in what he called a “just struggle against hegemonic forces in defense of his sovereign rights, security and interests,” an apparent reference to the war in Ukraine.
Information about Kim’s trip to Russia comes largely from the official media of both countries. North Korean state media did not provide any updates on Kim’s activities on Friday. They typically report on Kim’s activities the day after the incident, apparently to meet North Korea’s propaganda needs glorifying Kim.
Source : themessenger.com