Putin Face-to-Face, Soyuz-2 & Ballet: Kim Jong Un's 'Big Agenda' Russia Trip
13:06 GMT 17.09.2023 (Updated: 13:37 GMT 18.09.2023)
Kim Jong-un’s visit to Russia boasted a packed itinerary which included talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, inspection of the launch pad of the Soyuz-2 spacecraft at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, inside looks at Russian plants for the production of civilian and military equipment, as well as aircraft factories.
The Chairman of the State Council of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong Un wrapped up his visit to Russia
on September 17.
The five-day visit at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin was the North Korean leader’s first to Russia since 2019, and his first trip abroad since the COVID-19 pandemic. Sputnik takes a look at the highlights of Kim Jong Un’s tour of Russia and its Far East region.
First Trip to Russia Since 2019
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un left Pyongyang by special train
in the afternoon of September 10, accompanied on the trip by DPRK Foreign Minister Choi Seong-hee, his sister Kim Yo Jong -
the deputy director of the Publicity and Information Department of the Workers' Party of Korea, and other top officials. The extravagantly adorned, armor-plated train was yet again the focus of media reports.
Ahead of the visit, the Kremlin noted that the leader of North Korea would meet with Russia's President Vladimir Putin at the Vostochny spaceport near the town of Tsiolkovsky in Russia’s Far East to discuss issues of bilateral relations.
The North Korean leader last met with Russian officials in July, when Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu visited Pyongyang to discuss global and regional security matters. Kim Jong Un last traveled abroad in 2019 to Russia's Vladivostok to participate in his first-ever summit with Vladimir Putin. The meeting involved talks on denuclearization and relations with the United States.
On September 13, Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met
at the Vostochny Cosmodrome
near the town of Tsiolkovsky in the Russian Far East's Amur region to discuss a number of pressing issues, including those related to bilateral cooperation, as well as regional and global security. The negotiations on Wednesday were conducted both as part of their countries’ delegations and in a face-to-face format, in a meeting that lasted a total of about six hours.
Ahead of the negotiations, the two leaders inspected the launch pad of the Soyuz-2 spacecraft,
visiting the assembly and test building, and learned about the technical characteristics of launch vehicles. Putin noted that Russia continues to use the Baikonur Cosmodrome along with Vostochny and the northern Plesetsk Cosmodrome. During the tour, Kim was briefed on the characteristics of the Russian-made Soyuz-2
and the Angara rockets, among other things. The North Korean leader was told that the Angara rocket's payload capacity to low orbits is nine tons from Vostochny, 7.5 tons from the northern cosmodrome, and eight tons from Baikonur.
Putin, for his part, noted that the Vostochny Cosmodrome was an unusual venue for his meeting with Kim.
"We are proud of the development of our space industry, and this facility is new for us. I hope that you and your colleagues are interested in it," the Russian president said.
Kim Jong Un left a short entry in the book of honorary guests of the cosmodrome, writing, “The glory of Russia, which gave birth to the first space explorers, will be immortal."
The North Korean leader reiterated that Pyongyang’s ties with Moscow were his country's priority. "Our friendship has deep roots, and the very first priority for our country now is relations with Russia," Kim underlined, stressing that his visit is taking place "at a very important period."
He signaled Pyongyang’s readiness to “further develop ties [with Russia],” adding, “We have always supported and support all the decisions by President Putin and those by the Russian government.” Kim also expressed confidence that his meeting with Putin will raise bilateral relations between Moscow and Pyongyang to a new level.
Speaking to Russian media after the Wednesday talks, Putin noted that an open exchange of views on the situation in the Far East region had taken place.
"It is a good start, [and] very productive [one]. A very frank exchange of views took place on the situation in the region and on bilateral relations," Putin emphasized, adding that he and Kim also discussed the development of bilateral relations in the field of agriculture. The statement came after the Russian head of state noted that Kim’s visit “is taking place in a truly comradely and friendly atmosphere."
The North Korean leader, in turn, said during a gala dinner after the talks that high on the agenda was the situation in Europe and the Korean Peninsula.
"Comrade Putin and I just discussed in depth the military and political situation on the Korean Peninsula and in Europe and [we] arrived at a satisfactory consensus on further strengthening strategic and tactical cooperation, supporting solidarity in the struggle for the protection of the sovereign right of security, for creating guarantees of lasting peace in the region," Kim underlined.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told the media that the North Korean leader would be traveling to Komsomolsk-on-Amur to visit plants for the production of civilian and military equipment.
"The chairman has a big agenda ahead. He is flying from here to Komsomolsk-on-Amur, he will visit factories where aviation equipment is produced, both civilian and military," Putin said at the time.
"And a few issues related to ecology and education, he plans to visit the Far Eastern Federal University, some facilities of the Academy of Sciences of Russia, whose laboratories are engaged in marine biology," Putin had added.
The green armored train transporting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un across Russia arrived at the railway station of the Russian city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur at around 8:50 a.m. local time (22:50 GMT on Thursday). The DPRK leader continued his stay in Russia with a visit to the aviation plant named after Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Khabarovsk Territory on September 15.
In Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Kim Jong Un and Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov inspected the final assembly shop of the Su-35 and Su-57, as well as the SJ-100, while Manturov said that Russia sees potential for cooperation with North Korea in the field of aircraft manufacturing. The North Korean leader also watched a flight of the Su-35 multirole fighter.
Kim Jong Un left Komsomolsk-on-Amur after spending about five hours there, and was seen off on the platform by the governor and the head of the city, while his armored Maybach was loaded onto an armored train using a special platform.
On Saturday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived at the Knevichi airfield near Vladivostok, meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu before viewing a variety of Russian military aircraft.
The leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) saw Russia's Tu-160, Tu-95MS, and Tu-22M3 bombers. These aircraft form the air component of Russia's strategic nuclear forces.
In addition, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu showed Kim Jong Un Russia's Kinzhal hypersonic missile system on the MiG-31I aircraft. The commander of the Long-Range Aviation of the Russian Aerospace Forces, Lt. Gen. Sergey Kobylash, told Kim about the flight and technical capabilities of the system.
This Russian hypersonic missile system has no analogues in the world
and has shown its high combat effectiveness.
Later on, Kim Jong Un, accompanied by Sergey Shoigu, arrived in Vladivostok on board Pacific Fleet frigate the Marshal Shaposhnikov. The ship, built in the mid-1980s, was recently modernized and equipped with top-of-the-line weaponry. The frigate is named after Boris Shaposhnikov - a marshal of the Soviet Union and a prominent military theorist of the WWII era who helped forge victory over Nazis.
The Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, Admiral Nikolai Evmenov, briefed the high-ranking visitors on the advanced capabilities of the new control systems, which enable the use of Kalibr cruise missiles against maritime and coastal targets at a range of up to 1,500 km.
After arriving in Primorsky Territory, Kim Jong Un met with local authorities to discuss many issues, including the prospects of exchanging school groups for health vacations, according to Governor Oleg Kozhemyako. The North Korean leader also attended the "Sleeping Beauty" ballet performed on the Primorsky Stage of the Mariinsky Theatre in Vladivostok.
Kim Jong Uns' delegation also visited the oceanarium in Russia’s Vladivostok.
On Sunday, Kim Jong Un’s train left Russia's Far East, marking the end of his lengthy and packed visit. Russian high-ranking officials gathered to see the North Korean leader off at the Artem-Primorsky-1 station in Russia's Primorsk Territory.
The distance from Artyom to the Khasan railroad station on the border with North Korea exceeds 200 kilometers (124 miles), with travel time taking several hours.