North Korea’s Kim Leaves Russia, Receives Drones As Gift

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un left Russia on Sunday, capping off a visit that confirmed Pyongyang’s tight connections with Vladimir Putin while also fueling Western fears that Pyongyang would supply Moscow with weapons for its assault on Ukraine.

Kim’s lengthy tour of Russia’s far east, which began on Tuesday, has been heavily focused on military affairs, with his personal entourage controlled by officers, a ceremonial exchange of arms with Putin, and a tour of a fighter aircraft facility in Komsomolsk-on-Amur.

According to TASS, Kim was given five explosive drones, a reconnaissance drone, and a bulletproof jacket as gifts from a regional governor before leaving.

According to the Russian outlet, the “leader of the DPRK received five kamikaze drones and a ‘Geran-25’ reconnaissance drone with vertical takeoff,” using North Korea’s official name.

According to TASS, the governor of the Primorye area, which borders China and North Korea, “offered Kim Jong Un a set of bulletproof protection” as well as “special clothing not detectable by thermal cameras.”

Later that day, the Russian news agency Ria Novosti published a video of Kim’s departure and stated that a “departure ceremony” was performed at the Artyom-Primorsky-1 station.

Footage shows Kim waving goodbye to a Russian delegation led by Natural Resources Minister Alexander Kozlov from his train before the Russian march “Farewell of Slavianka” is played as the train departs.

According to the official TASS news agency, Kim’s train was about 250 kilometers (155 miles) from the border.

Russia and North Korea, both historic friends, are subject to a slew of international sanctions — Moscow for its Ukraine assault, Pyongyang for its nuclear testing.

The North Korean leader’s first official tour overseas since the coronavirus crisis has fueled Western suspicions that Moscow and Pyongyang may violate sanctions and reach a weapons deal.

Greater cooperation

Putin spoke up the idea of more cooperation with North Korea and “possibilities” for military links after visiting Kim on Wednesday at the Vostochny cosmodrome, around 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles) from Moscow.

Moscow is thought to be interested in purchasing North Korean weaponry to continue fighting in Ukraine, while Pyongyang is thought to covet Russia’s assistance in developing its globally condemned missile program.

The Kremlin has said no agreement has or will be signed.

Kim met with Russia’s defense minister in Vladivostok on Saturday, where he examined cutting-edge weapons, including a hypersonic missile system.

A video posted by Russia’s defense ministry showed the couple smiling as they viewed some of Russia’s nuclear bombers at an airport before boarding a cruiser.

According to the North Korean news agency KCNA, the mood during Kim’s visit was “fervent and warm,” and a “new era of friendship, solidarity, and cooperation” was beginning between North Korea and Russia.

During his conversation with Kim, Putin accepted an invitation to visit North Korea and volunteered to send a North Korean to space, a first.

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