SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — After a day of inspecting Russia’s nuclear-capable bombers and other advanced weapons, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made a light-hearted visit Sunday to a university and watched a walrus show at a Russian aquarium. Followed by a closely observed trip to the Russian Far East.
North Korean state media highlighted the focus of Kim’s visit, describing his discussions with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu as expanding “strategic and tactical coordination” between their countries’ militaries, amid growing Western concerns about an armed alliance that could inflame Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin’s War on Ukraine.
Russia’s RIA Novosti state news agency released videos of Kim – dressed in black and accompanied by his top brass – speaking to Russian officials through interpreters on the campus of the Far Eastern Federal University on Russky Island.
Russian state media said Kim met with Oleg Kozhemiako, governor of Russia’s Primorye region, which includes the port city of Vladivostok, and Russian Natural Resources Minister Alexander Kozlov and university president Boris Korobets.
An online video posted by Kozlov showed Kim shielded from a light rain as he was shown around the university campus. Russian state media reported that Kozlov told Kim that North Koreans were studying there and that the school was happy for North Korean students to study hydropower.
Kosemiako had previously said he would discuss with Kim plans for schoolchildren to attend each other’s summer camps.
Kim was later spotted at the island’s Primorsky Aquarium, Russia’s largest aquarium, where he watched shows featuring beluga whales, bottlenose dolphins, fur seals and “Misha” the walrus, which he seemed to particularly enjoy, according to Russian state media.
Kim’s trip, highlighted by Summit with Putin Wednesday underscored how their interests are aligned in the face of separate, escalating conflicts with the West. U.S. and South Korean officials have said North Korea could provide badly needed weapons for Moscow’s war on Ukraine in exchange for sophisticated Russian weapons technology that would advance Kim’s nuclear ambitions.
A day after visiting an aircraft plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur that produces Russia’s most powerful fighter jets, Kim traveled to an airport near Vladivostok on Saturday, where Shoigu and other senior military officials got an up-close look at Russia’s strategic bombers. Other warplanes.
All of the Russian warplanes shown to Kim were of the type used in active combat in Ukraine, including Tu-160, Tu-95 and Tu-22 bombers that have regularly launched cruise missiles.
During Kim’s visit, Shoigu and the commander of Russia’s long-range bomber force, Lt. Gen. Sergey Kobylash, confirmed for the first time that the Tu-160 had recently received new cruise missiles capable of a range of more than 6,500 kilometers (more). 4,040 miles).
Shoigu met Kim on a rare occasion Traveled to North Korea in JulyKim also showed off one of Russia’s latest missiles, the hypersonic Kinzel, carried by a MiG-31 fighter jet that saw its first combat during the war in Ukraine.
On Saturday, Kim and Shoigu traveled to Vladivostok, where they inspected the Admiral Shaboshnikov frigate. Commander of the Russian Navy, Adm. Nikolai Yevmenov briefed Kim on the ship’s capabilities and weapons, including the long-range Kalibr missiles that Russian warships regularly fire at targets in Ukraine.
KCNA, which reported Kim’s activities in Russia a day late as KCNA prepares details for government propaganda purposes, said Kim was accompanied by his top military officials, including his defense minister and the top commanders of his air force and navy, on Saturday.
“Following the lunch, Kim and Shoigu discussed the regional security environment and exchanged views on practical issues arising in further strengthening strategic and tactical coordination, cooperation and mutual exchange between the two countries’ armed forces,” KCNA reported.
At their July meeting, Kim gave Shoigu a similar briefing before inviting him to a major parade in the capital, Pyongyang, where he will develop his most powerful intercontinental ballistic missiles designed to target the United States.
Kim’s visits to military and technical sites this week may signal what he wants from Russia, perhaps in exchange for providing ammunition to replenish Putin’s dwindling stockpiles as his invasion of Ukraine turns into a tug-of-war.
Kim’s meeting with Putin took place at Russia’s main space station. Where he indicated his desire for Russian help In his efforts to acquire space-based reconnaissance assets and missile technologies.
Experts have said efforts to modernize North Korea’s aging air force, which relies on fighter jets shipped from the Soviet Union in the 1980s, could include potential military cooperation between the countries.
In recent months, Kim has focused on strengthening the country’s navy, which analysts say may be driven by ambitions to acquire Russia’s cutting-edge technologies for ballistic missile submarines and nuclear-powered submarines. Begin joint naval exercises between Russia and North Korea.
After Saturday, Kim went to a local theater to see a performance of Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty ballet. KCNA reported that Kim received a standing ovation from the crowd at the theater and expressed “deep gratitude to the artists and the theater for their impressive and elegant ballet of high artistic value.”
Russian state media reported that Kim left after the first act. __ AP journalist Elise Morton contributed from London.