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North Korean leader checks out Russia's bombers, hypersonic missiles

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, center right, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, left, and Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, center left, visit a frigate of the Russian Navy in the port of Vladivostok, Russian Far East, on Sept. 16, 2023. (Photo by AP)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has checked out Russia’s nuclear-capable strategic bombers, hypersonic missiles and warships as part of his visit to the country that has angered the United States.

Kim on Saturday visited Knevichi airfield, nearly 50 km from the Pacific city of Vladivostok, and was received by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Shoigu showed Kim the strategic bombers, the Tu-160, Tu-95 and Tu-22M3, which are capable of carrying nuclear weapons, according to Russia's defense ministry.

"It can fly from Moscow to Japan and then back again," Shoigu told Kim of one aircraft.

Kim also viewed the MiG-31I supersonic interceptor aircraft equipped with hypersonic "Kinzhal" missiles, which are capable of carrying nuclear or conventional warheads.

The air-launched ballistic missile Kinzhal, or dagger, has a reported range of 1,500 to 2,000 km, and can carry a payload of 480 kg. It may fly at up to 10 times the speed of sound (12,000 kph)

Kim later inspected the warship of Russia's Pacific fleet in Vladivostok. The visit came a day after Kim visited a Russian fighter jet factory that is under Western sanctions.

The North Korea leader arrived in Russia earlier this week for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin.

The two leaders discussed the war in Ukraine and the expansion of mutual cooperation during their meeting on Wednesday.

Senior officials of South Korea and the US claimed on Friday that military cooperation between Pyongyang and Moscow is a serious violation of UN sanctions.

The US and South Korea fear that Moscow would give Kim access to some of Russia's sensitive missile and other technology in exchange for receiving arms for the war in Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that there had not been a plan to ink any formal pact during the visit.

Russian diplomats have said Washington had no right to lecture Moscow after the US had sent weapons to its allies, including Ukraine and South Korea, and expanded military drills near the Korean peninsula.

Moscow and Pyongyang have further enhanced ties since the start of the war in Ukraine last year.

Kim has described the war in Ukraine as a US “proxy war” to destroy Russia. He has condemned Western military aid to Kiev and blamed the “hegemonic policy” and “high-handedness” of the United States and the West for the conflict.

Russia began what it calls a special military operation in Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Moscow said the operation was aimed at defending Ukraine’s pro-Russia population in Donetsk and Luhansk, eastern Ukrainian regions, against persecution by Kiev.

Moscow has frequently warned that a continued supply of Western arms and military equipment for the Ukrainian military would only prolong the war.

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