North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met with Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, as the latter visited North Korea as the country celebrated the 70th anniversary of an armistice that halted fighting in the 1950-53 Korean War. Shoigu received a warm reception from Kim Jong Un. Shoigu conveyed to Kim a warm and good letter signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, KCNA said.
Kim showed off North Korea's latest weapons to Shoigu and briefed him on national plans to expand the country's military capabilities. North Korea also extended an invite to Chinese delegations, a rare case of diplomatic opening since the start of the pandemic.
Among the weapons Kim showed Shoigu included the Hwasong intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which was successfully tested in April. Kim also steered Shoigu towards new surveillance and attack drones that had not been publicly announced by the North. According to a BBC report, one of the drones resembled the primary offensive strike drone used by the US Air Force.
This display of arms comes amid accusations that Russia is being supplied with arms for its war in Ukraine by North Korea, a claim both Moscow and Pyongyang have denied. At the arms exhibit, were also shown new unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and some of its largest nuclear missiles.
Kim and Shoigu reportedly discussed concerns over national defence and the international security environment. Lee Sung Joon, a spokesperson for South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a briefing that the South Korean military was analysing the military assets. Shoigu, on Wednesday, had said that North Korea has “the most powerful army in the world”.
North Korea has been aligning with Russia over the war in Ukraine, insisting that the hegemonic policy of the US-led West forced Moscow to take military action to protect its security interests.
The visit of Russian and Chinese delegations for North Korea's Victory Day - as the 1953 end of hostilities is called in the North - is expected to finish on Thursday with an extensive military parade.
The visiting Chinese delegation is led by politburo member Li Hongzhong. He too, handed a personal letter from President Xi Jinping to Kim.
--With PTI inputs