North Korean leader Kim Jong-un conducted an inspection of Russian military assets, including nuclear-capable strategic bombers, hypersonic missiles, and warships. The visit took place at Russia’s Knevichi airfield near Vladivostok.

Kim Jong-un inspected a guard of honour and was welcomed by Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.

One key highlight of Kim’s visit was his inspection of Russia’s strategic bombers, which included the Tu-160, Tu-95, and Tu-22M3. These aircraft are capable of carrying nuclear weapons and are vital components of Russia’s nuclear air attack capabilities.

Sergei Shoigu provided Kim with information about the capabilities of these aircraft, even mentioning that one of them could undertake a round trip from Moscow to Japan. Kim Jong-un displayed a keen interest in the missiles, enquiring about their launch mechanisms.

The North Korean leader nodded and smiled during the discussion, indicating his active engagement in the conversation.

Kim Jong-un was also shown the MiG-31I supersonic interceptor aircraft equipped with Kinzhal air-launched hypersonic missiles, which can carry either nuclear or conventional warheads. These missiles report a range of 1,500-2,000 km (930-1,240 miles) and a top speed of up to ten times the speed of sound.

Beyond the aircraft and missiles, Kim had the opportunity to inspect the Russian Pacific fleet’s frigate Marshal Shaposhnikov in Vladivostok. He also witnessed a demonstration of modern missile control systems. Kim Jong-un also inspected a Russian fighter jet factory subject to Western sanctions during his visit.

The exchange between North Korean and Russian officials related to Russian military assets has raised concerns in the international community, particularly among the United States and South Korea. There are fears that the strengthening of ties between Moscow and Pyongyang could potentially result in the transfer of sensitive missile technology to North Korea.

The visit also included cultural elements, as Kim Jong-un enjoyed a performance of the ballet Sleeping Beauty.

Kim Jong-un’s visit has been described as “very intense” by Russia’s ambassador to North Korea, Alexander Matsegora. The duration of his stay in Russia remains uncertain, but the extensive agenda suggests a significant engagement between the two nations.

The historical roots of military cooperation between Russia and North Korea date back to 1948 with Soviet support for North Korea’s establishment.

Accusations from Washington that North Korea has provided arms to Russia, a country with the largest number of nuclear warheads globally, have further intensified concerns. However, it remains unclear whether any such arms deliveries have occurred.

Russian diplomats defend their stance, arguing that the United States lacks grounds to lecture Moscow. They cited the US’ own actions, including the deployment of a nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarine to South Korea in July, as evidence of a broader international context.

Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to view engagement with Kim Jong-un as an opportunity to challenge and provoke Washington and its Asian allies.

Kim Jong-un’s discussions with Vladimir Putin covered a range of topics, including military matters and the conflict in Ukraine. The expansion of their cooperation was also on the agenda during their meeting.

President Putin emphasised Russia’s commitment to not violating any agreements while expressing the intent to continue developing relations with North Korea. Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesperson, clarified that there were no formal agreements planned to be signed during Kim’s visit.