- Kim tested nuclear-capable bombers
- Kim showed off hypersonic missiles
- Putin’s defense minister congratulated Kim
- Kim inspects Russian warship
VLADIVOSTOK, Russia, Sept 16 (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspected Russian nuclear-capable strategic bombers, hypersonic missiles and warships with President Vladimir Putin’s defense minister on Saturday.
A smiling Kim was greeted by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who saluted Kim at Russia’s Knevichi Airfield, about 50 km (30 miles) from the Pacific city of Vladivostok. The North Korean leader then inspected it out of respect.
The U.S. and South Korea fear that Moscow’s revival of friendship with Pyongyang could give Kim access to some of Russia’s most important missiles and other technology, while helping arm Russia in Ukraine.
Kim showed Shoigu Russia’s nuclear-capable Tu-160, Tu-95 and Tu-22M3 strategic bombers, Russia’s Defense Ministry said.
“It can fly from Moscow to Japan and back again,” Shoigu told Kim about a plane.
Kim was shown asking how the missiles were fired from the plane, at times nodding and smiling.
Shoigu showed him the MiG-31I supersonic interceptor aircraft equipped with “Kinzel” hypersonic missiles. The Kinzhal, or dagger, is an air-launched ballistic missile capable of carrying nuclear or conventional warheads.
It has a range of 1,500 to 2,000 km (930–1,240 miles) while carrying 480 kg (1,100 lb). It can travel at 10 times the speed of sound (12,000 kph, 7,700 mph).
After the aircraft and missiles, Kim inspected Russia’s Pacific Fleet frigate in Vladivostok, where he was to watch a demonstration by the Russian Navy.
South Korea and the United States said on Friday that military cooperation between North Korea and Russia violated UN sanctions against Pyongyang and will ensure that allies pay a price.
Russia has gone out of its way to publicize Kim’s visit and to drop repeated hints about the possibility of military cooperation with North Korea, formed in 1948 with the backing of the Soviet Union.
For Putin, who says Moscow is locked in an existential war with the West over Ukraine, courting Kim allows Washington and its Asian allies to poke the needle.
Washington has accused North Korea of supplying weapons to Russia, which has the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, but it is unclear whether any deliveries have been made.
Kim on Friday inspected a Russian fighter jet factory under Western sanctions.
He and Putin discussed military affairs, the war in Ukraine and deepening cooperation when they met on Wednesday. Putin told reporters that Russia was “not going to violate anything” but would develop ties with North Korea.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters there were no plans to sign any formal agreements during the visit.
Russian diplomats said Washington had no right to lecture Moscow after the United States strengthened its allies around the world, including the visit of a US nuclear-armed submarine to South Korea in July.
Reported by Reuters; By Guy Falconbridge; Editing: William Mallard
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