Kim Jong Un Meets Russia’s Defense Minister, Inspects Missile System

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un capped his visit to Russia with an inspection of next-generation missile systems and a meeting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

(Bloomberg) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un capped his visit to Russia with an inspection of next-generation missile systems and a meeting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

The meeting took place at the Knevichi airfield near Vladivostok, the Russian defense ministry said in a on its Telegram channel said. Kim inspected the new Kinzhal hypersonic missile system, supersonic bombers and the latest weapons on the MiG-31 missile carrier, it said.

The trip to Russia, which started with a border crossing Tuesday, is set to be one of Kim’s longest abroad since taking power about a decade ago.

While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sent President Vladimir Putin into global isolation, it has also drawn him closer to Kim — who has supported the Kremlin’s war and holds vast stores of munitions that are interoperable with the Soviet-era systems Russia is using on the frontlines.

Kim also visited Russia’s Marshal Shaposhnikov frigate on Saturday, the defense ministry said. On Friday, he toured a factory that makes fighter jets and other aircraft and was shown planes including the Su-35, and the Su-57 stealth combat fighter.

Cooperation deepened after Shoigu made a rare visit to the North Korean capital in July, with Kim giving him a tour of a weapons exhibition where nuclear-capable ballistic missiles and drones were on display.

Days later, Russia’s military sent a VIP passenger jet to Pyongyang, stoking speculation of follow-up agreements reached between Kim and Shoigu. About a week after, a North Korean freighter left a port near a munitions plants to make a cargo delivery to Russia, specialist service NK News reported.

The US has for months accused Kim of providing arms and ammunition to aid Putin’s war, including sending shells and rockets. While the US has said the weapons aren’t likely to alter the battlefield, they can aid in the bombardment of Ukraine, while sales could provide North Korea with a new stream of revenue for an economy isolated from much of world trade. 

Moscow and Pyongyang have denied the accusations.

Read: Kim’s Transport of Choice Is a Slow, Swanky Bulletproof Train

Kim’s train arrived Saturday morning in Artyom, a small city near Vladivostok, South Korean broadcaster YTN reported. He transferred to his limousine surrounded by a motorcade, it said.

No official itinerary was given for the trip, but a train line goes from Vladivostok to the sole bridge linking to North Korea about 150 kilometers (95 miles) away. Kim’s luxury armored train travels at plodding speeds due to its immense weight and the journey back to Pyongyang could take as long as 20 hours, Yonhap news agency said.

Putin and Kim met Wednesday for the first time in more than four years, toured Vostochny Cosmodrome space center in the Amur region and held extensive talks. 

The visit to the space facility underscored some of the items that may be on Kim’s wish list in exchange for supplying munitions to Russia. Pyongyang has failed twice this year to deploy a spy satellite and could be seeking assistance from Moscow in putting one into orbit. 

Kim may also be seeking technology that would help his regime’s nuclear warheads survive the heat from reentry to the atmosphere.

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