North Korea’s Kim Jong Un receives drones as gifts as Russia trip ends

North Korean leader on his way back home after trip to Russia.

russia kim jong un
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits Vladivostok, Russia [KCNA via Reuters]

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has received five explosive drones, a reconnaissance drone and a bulletproof vest as gifts from a regional governor on his visit to Russia.

On Saturday he met the Russian defence minister in Vladivostok, where he inspected state-of-the-art weapons, including a hypersonic missile system.

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

The report added that the governor of the Primorye region, which borders China and North Korea, also “offered Kim Jong Un a set of bulletproof protection” and “special clothing not detectable by thermal cameras”.

On Sunday, Kim ended his visit to the Russian Far East by boarding his armoured train in the city of Artyom, located north of the port of Vladivostok, and embarking on the long trip home, state-run media in Russia reported.

Video showed Kim being seen off with the national anthems of both North Korea and Russia.

Kim spent six days in Russia and held headline-grabbing talks with President Vladimir Putin at the Vostochny spaceport.

His first official visit abroad since the coronavirus pandemic has fanned Western fears that Moscow and Pyongyang would defy sanctions and strike an arms deal.

His extended tour of Russia’s far eastern region, which began on Tuesday, focused extensively on military matters, as evidenced by his own officer-dominated entourage, a symbolic exchange of rifles with Putin and a tour of a fighter jet factory in Komsomolsk-on-Amur.

Moscow is believed to be interested in buying North Korean ammunition to continue fighting in Ukraine, while Pyongyang wants Russia’s help to develop its internationally condemned missile programme. The Kremlin has said no agreement was signed.

North Korean news agency KCNA described the atmosphere during Kim’s visit as “fervent and warm” and said a “new era of friendship, solidarity and cooperation” was opening between North Korea and Russia.

Al Jazeera’s Florence Looi, reporting from Seoul, said it was significant that Kim had chosen Putin to be the first foreign leader that he has met since the pandemic.

“North Korea is one of the few countries to publicly support Russia in its invasion and war in Ukraine. Now, Kim has stated that he considers this war a righteous endeavour, and he also said that North Korea is ready to stand with Russia, against imperialism,” Looi said.

The two leaders called each other “comrades” at lunch and Putin repeatedly reminded Kim that it was the Soviet Union that backed North Korea – and was first to recognise it 75 years ago when it was established.

Russia has joined China in opposing new sanctions on North Korea, blocking a United States-led push and publicly splitting the United Nations Security Council for the first time since it started punishing Pyongyang in 2006.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies