SEOUL — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will visit aviation factories and inspect Russia’s Pacific fleet on Thursday, continuing his focus on military issues on his third day in the Russian Far East.
In the meantime, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would visit Pyongyang for more talks next month, the Kremlin said.
The pair of international outcasts has been putting on a show of support and camaraderie this week in a clear rebuff to U.S.-led efforts to isolate Putin over his invasion of Ukraine and Kim over his pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
Putin on Wednesday welcomed Kim to the Vostochny Cosmodrome spaceport, where they held almost five hours of talks and had dinner. They are likely to have discussed arms sales from North Korea to Russia and food aid for North Korea.
On Thursday, Kim will travel to the city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur to visit military and civilian aviation factories, the Kremlin said. Japan’s Kyodo news agency, citing unnamed sources, said the factory that Kim was expected to visit is one that manufactures Sukhoi fighter jets.
The North Korean leader will then travel to Vladivostok to inspect the Pacific fleet.
Wednesday’s meeting between Kim and Putin follows months of U.S. intelligence assessments that Russia is looking to get more of North Korea’s weaponry to replenish its dwindling supplies for the war in Ukraine, while Pyongyang is seeking to boost its beleaguered economy and get Moscow to share advanced technology for its satellite and nuclear programs.
North Korea is believed to have a large stockpile of dated artillery shells and rockets that would be compatible with Soviet and Russian weapons systems used in Ukraine, as well as a production capacity that would help Russia maintain its high ammunition burn rate as the Kremlin seeks to scale up domestic production.
Russia used up to 11 million shells in Ukraine last year, according to recent Western estimates, and is set to fire 7 million more this year, said Jack Watling, senior research fellow for land warfare at the Royal United Services Institute, a British think tank.
A potential arms deal would violate U.N. sanctions that Russia previously supported as a member state and a permanent member of the Security Council.