North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sunday concluded his visit of Russia and left Russia in his armoured train.
Kim is returning to North Korea with armed drones and bullet-proof vest as personal gifts, according to state media.
Kim's six-day visit included meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu. He also inspected military facilities that manufacture and house military aircraft, including fighters and bombers.
Kim's visit to Russia, his first foreign visit since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, comes amid talks of an arms deal between the two countries. It has been reproted that North Korea could provide much-needed artillery supplies to Russia and Russia could in turn help Kim with nuclear and space programmes.
How did Kim Jong Un's visit Russia visit play out?
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un began his six-day visit to Russia on Tuesday.
Kim arrived in Russia in his armoured train from North Korea. The visit was centered in the Far East region of Russia.
During the visit, Kim met Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and visited Russian military factories and a university.
The highlight of the visit was a summit meeting with Putin on Wednesday amid reports that the two countries are looking for a weapons deal.
Kim on Friday visited an aircraft factory in Komsomolsk-on-Amur that produces Russia's most powerful fighter jets and another facility with strategic bombers and other warplanes on Saturday, reported Associated Press (AP).
"All the Russian warplanes shown to Kim were among the types that have seen active use in the war in Ukraine, including the Tu-160, Tu-95 and Tu-22 bombers that have regularly launched cruise missiles," reported AP, adding that Kim also visited a Russian warship.
"Kim and Shoigu later on Saturday traveled to Vladivostok, where they inspected the Admiral Shaposhnikov frigate. Russia's navy commander, Adm. Nikolai Yevmenov, briefed Kim on the ship's capabilities and weapons, which include long-range Kalibr cruise missiles that Russian warships have regularly fired at targets in Ukraine. North Korea's state media reported Kim was accompanied on Saturday's visits by his top military officials, including his defense minister and the top commanders of his air force and navy," reported AP.
Kim could sell weapons for help with nuclear, space programmes
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's visit to Russia and the meeting between with Russian President Vladimir Putin comes after the White House said the two leaders have exchanged letters over an arms deal. The United States had first mentioned the possibility of Russia-North Korea parternship over Ukraine a year ago.
"The United States first warned about cooperation between North Korea and Russia a year ago. Officials, citing declassified U.S. intelligence, said that Russia planned to buy artillery shells for use in Ukraine," reported NYT, which also reported that the current potential deal involves a trade-off in which North Korea provides Russia with shells and Russia helps North Korea with satellite, nuclear technology, and food supplies.
Kim and Putin met at at Russia's main spaceport, a location that highlights the desire for collaboration over space.
"Experts have said potential military cooperation between the countries could include efforts to modernise North Korea's outdated air force, which relies on warplanes sent from the Soviet Union in the 1980s," reported AP.
Russian gifts for Kim Jong Un
After the conclusion of the visit, the Russian state media reported that the regional governor visited Kim with drones and a protective vest.
Russia's TASS news agency said Kim was gifted five explosive drones, a reconnaissance drone, and a bulletproof vest as gifts by the governor of Primorye region.
TASS said the "leader of the DPRK received five kamikaze drones and a 'Geran-25' reconnaissance drone with vertical takeoff". DPRK is the formal name of North Korea which stands for Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
TASS said the governor also "offered Kim Jong Un a set of bulletproof protection" and "special clothing not detectable by thermal cameras".