North Korea coming out of the cold, Russia talks up military ties

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Seoul: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russia’s defence minister discussed practical issues to boost military co-operation, state media said on Sunday, in what Pyongyang calls a “fresh heyday” for bilateral relations.

During his visit to Russia, Kim inspected Russian nuclear-capable strategic bombers, hypersonic missiles and warships on Saturday, accompanied by Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (centre) looks at a military jet cockpit while visiting a Russian aircraft plant that builds fighter jets.Credit: AP

Continuing his now week-long train journey, Kim will go to several food enterprises, Russia’s RIA news agency reported on Sunday.

The trip by the North Korean leader, who seldom leaves his country, comes as “a fresh heyday of friendship and solidarity and co-operation is being opened up in the history of the development of the relations between the DPRK and Russia,” state KCNA news agency said, using the initials for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Kim met Russian President Vladimir Putin and discussed military matters, the war in Ukraine and deepening co-operation last week.

The United States and its allies are worried about warming military ties between the two neighbours as Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine and North Korea proceeds with missile and nuclear development.

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during their meeting.Credit: AP

South Korea and the US said on Friday that military co-operation between North Korea and Russia would violate UN sanctions against Pyongyang and that the allies would ensure there was a price to pay.

Russia has gone out of its way to publicise Kim’s visit, dropping repeated hints about the prospect of military co-operation with North Korea, a country formed in 1948 with the backing of the Soviet Union.

Kim and Shoigu “exchanged their constructive opinions on the practical issues arising in further strengthening the strategic and tactical co-ordination, cooperation and mutual exchange between the armed forces of the two countries and in the fields of their national defence and security,” KCNA reported.

Moscow is discussing joint military exercises with North Korea, Shoigu told Russian media. He visited Pyongyang in July and toured a weapons exhibit with Kim, one of the most striking signs of deepening ties up to that point.

Kim also toured Russia’s Pacific Sea Fleet, equipped with strategic nuclear submarines among other military vessels, KCNA said, quoting him as praising the fleet for its contribution to peace in the region. He was photographed in a control room and inspecting a warship.

Earlier this month, North Korea launched its first operational “tactical nuclear attack submarine”.


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