North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Friday inspected a Russian fighter jet factory under Western sanctions, as part of a visit feared by Washington. and its allies that could strengthen the Russian army in Ukraine and strengthen Pyongyang’s missile program.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kim discussed military issues, the war in Ukraine and deepening cooperation when they met at a summit on Wednesday.
South Korea and the United States said Friday that military cooperation between North Korea and Russia constitutes a violation of UN sanctions against Pyongyang, and that the allies will ensure there is a price to pay.
Putin told reporters that Russia “will not exceed anything” but will continue to improve its relations with North Korea. His spokesman said no agreement on military issues or any other issues was signed during Kim’s visit.
Kim, 39, on Friday visited aviation facilities in the far eastern city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur, the Yuri Gagarin Aviation Plant and the Yakovlev Plant, both units of the Western-sanctioned United Aircraft Corporation. .
At the Gagarin plant, which is also specifically authorized by the United States, Kim inspected the assembly workshops where the Sukhoi Su-35 multirole fighter and the Su-57 fighter are manufactured, escorted by Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov, according to the government .
Kim, dressed in a suit and accompanied by uniformed North Korean soldiers, appeared on Russian state television inspecting the cockpit of a fighter jet as Russian officials explained to him its capabilities through a interpreter.
He then inspected the workshops where the fuselage compartments and wing assemblies of the Sukhoi Superjet 100 are made, before attending a demonstration flight of the Su-35. He nodded at the fighter’s performance.
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Russia is trying to publicize the visit and drop repeated hints about the prospect of military cooperation with North Korea, which was formed in 1948 with the backing of the former Soviet Union.
For Putin, who says Russia is locked in an existential war with the West over Ukraine, Kim’s courtship allows him to embarrass Washington and its allies in Asia while securing a major supply of artillery for the war in Ukraine.
Washington has accused North Korea of supplying weapons to Russia, which has the world’s largest arsenal of nuclear warheads, but it is unclear whether the delivery has taken place.