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North Korea says Kim Jong Un is back home from Russia, where he deepened ‘comradely’ ties with Putin

In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, steps down from his train after arriving in Artyom, near Vladivostok, Russian Far East. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: “KCNA” which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP

North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, came home Tuesday after a trip to Russia, where he strengthened “comradely fellowship and friendly ties” with President Vladimir Putin.

During Kim’s six-day visit to Russia, his longest foreign tour as a leader, the two nations stated that they discussed strengthening defence relations but did not specify any particular initiatives. Foreign analysts believe the two nations, which are both at odds with the West, were attempting to conclude arms transfer agreements in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions.

The official Korean Central News Agency said that Kim’s train crossed a border river on Monday morning, but did not specify whether it was bound for Pyongyang or somewhere within the nation. Kim paid many trips to his munitions facilities before travelling to Russia, sparking speculation that he was checking on the manufacturing of armaments to be transferred to Russia.

Kim visited Putin at Russia’s most significant space launch centre before touring military locations to examine some of Russia’s most powerful weapons equipment, including nuclear-capable bombers, fighter fighters, and hypersonic missiles.

In live comments during their meeting last Wednesday, Kim offered “full and unconditional support” to Putin. KCNA later said Kim and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also met and discussed expanding “strategic and tactical coordination” between the countries’ armed forces.

Many outside experts say Kim would supply ammunition to refill Russia’s drained inventory in the second year of the war in Ukraine in return for receiving Russian technologies to modernize his nuclear weapons arsenals. US and South Korean officials have warned that Russia and North Korea would face consequences if they go ahead with such weapons transfers deals in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

Other experts say Kim would end up getting food and economic aid because Russia is reluctant to share its sensitive, high-tech weapons technologies with other countries.

Kim has been pushing hard to bolster his nuclear arsenal citing what he called intensifying US military threats. Analysts say Kim would aim to use his enlarged arsenal to win greater concessions from the US while boosting his military credentials at home in the face of economic hardships deepened over the COVID-19 pandemic.



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