In this North Korean government-released photo, Kim Jong Un bids farewell to Russian Minister Alexander Kozlov in Artyom, Russia, on September 17, 2023. Independent verification not available. Watermark: "KCNA" (Korean Central News Agency).

Kim Jong Un Concludes Russia Trip Amid Weapons Transfer Concerns

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un departed Russia on Sunday aboard his armored train, concluding his week-long visit that triggered worries about prohibited weapons deals between the two isolated nations facing Western pressures.

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In this photograph, the North Korean government provides a glimpse as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, positioned at the front left, bids farewell to Russian Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology, Alexander Kozlov, at a station in Artyom, near Vladivostok in the Russian Far East on Sunday, September 17, 2023. Independent journalists were not granted access to cover this event, as shown in the image distributed by the North Korean government. The image's content is presented as provided and cannot be independently verified. The Korean language watermark on the image, as supplied by the source, displays "KCNA," the abbreviation for the Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un departed Russia on Sunday aboard his armored train, concluding his week-long visit that triggered worries about prohibited weapons deals between the two isolated nations facing Western pressures. Kim's trip, his first overseas since 2011, saw him meet President Vladimir Putin and visit military sites, signaling deepened Russia-North Korea defense ties.

In this photo, courtesy of the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, positioned at the front left, pays a visit to the Arnika Bio-Feed Mill in Vladivostok, Russian Far East, on Sunday, September 17, 2023. Independent journalists were not granted access to cover this event, as depicted in the image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is presented as provided and cannot be independently verified. The Korean language watermark on the image, as supplied by the source, displays "KCNA," the abbreviation for the Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

Kim's train left the Russian city of Artyom near the North Korean border after a farewell ceremony. Senior officials including Russia's Minister of Natural Resources and the Primorye governor attended, underscoring burgeoning regional cooperation. Kim's longest foreign excursion is expected to end with his arrival back in Pyongyang around Monday.

In this image, courtesy of the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, positioned third from the left in the front row, observes a walrus performance at the Primorsky Aquarium in Vladivostok, Russian Far East, on Sunday, September 17, 2023. Independent journalists were not granted access to cover this event, as shown in the image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is presented as provided and cannot be independently verified. The Korean language watermark on the image, as supplied by the source, displays "KCNA," the abbreviation for the Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

Since arriving last Tuesday, Kim toured facilities and technology in areas like aviation, space and nuclear research, highlighting enhanced military cooperation with Moscow amid their separate standoffs with the US-led West. Analysts believe sanctions-hit Russia could obtain stockpiles of aging North Korean artillery munitions to assist its campaign in Ukraine. In return, North Korea seeks advanced Russian weapons technology to boost its nuclear and missile programs.

In this photograph released by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, positioned at the center, shares a moment with the Governor of the Russian Far Eastern region of Primorsky Krai, Oleg Kozhemyako, on his right, and Russian Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology, Alexander Kozlov, on his left, during a banquet in Vladivostok, Russian Far East, on Sunday, September 17, 2023. Independent journalists were not granted access to cover the event depicted in this image, which was distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is presented as provided and cannot be independently verified. The Korean language watermark on the image, as supplied by the source, displays "KCNA," the abbreviation for the Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

UN Bans North Korean Arms Exports and Imports

However, UN resolutions prohibit North Korea from exporting or importing any armaments. Russia's alleged attempts to receive ammunition from Pyongyang reveal its desperation to replenish depleted forces in Ukraine. South Korea's President condemned any military cooperation between North Korea and Russia as illegal under UN sanctions.

In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at the center, visits the Far Eastern Federal University on Russky Island, Vladivostok, Russian Far East, on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023. Independent journalists were not granted access to cover this event depicted in the image distributed by the North Korean government. The image's content is as provided and cannot be independently verified. The Korean language watermark on the image, as provided by the source, reads "KCNA," which stands for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

In exchange for old artillery and rockets, North Korea wants Russian assistance with building sophisticated missiles, nuclear submarines and reconnaissance satellites. Despite accuracy issues with outdated North Korean artillery, Russia needs vast volumes of ammunition for barrages in Ukraine. North Korea also covets Russian expertise to advance prohibited strategic weaponscapabilities and circumvent sanctions.

In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, positioned in the foreground on the left, prepares to depart for home at a station in Artyom, near Vladivostok, Russian Far East, on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023. Independent journalists were not granted access to cover the event captured in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The image's content is as provided and cannot be independently verified. The Korean language watermark on the image, sourced as "KCNA," stands for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

Kim Tours Russian Facilities and Builds Regional Ties

Earlier on Sunday, Kim visited a university and watched a walrus show at an aquarium on Russky Island. He was seen happily viewing performances with beluga whales and dolphins. The Primorye governor said a Russian delegation will soon visit North Korea to boost trade, tourism and agricultural ties.

In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, positioned in the center, gets ready to depart for home at a station in Artyom, near Vladivostok, Russian Far East, on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023. Independent journalists were not granted access to cover the event captured in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The image's content is as provided and cannot be independently verified. The Korean language watermark on the image, sourced as "KCNA," stands for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

On Saturday, Kim saw Russia's Tu-160, Tu-95 and Tu-22 strategic bombers and other warplanes at an airbase. He inspected the Admiral Shaposhnikov frigate with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who also updated Kim on new Russian cruise missiles. The bombers and missiles showcased have been extensively used against Ukraine.

In this photograph supplied by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, on the front right, bids farewell to Governor Oleg Kozhemyako of Russia's far eastern Primorsky Krai region, on the front left, at a station in Artyom, near Vladivostok in the Russian Far East, on Sunday, September 17, 2023. Independent journalists were not granted access to cover the event captured in this image, which was distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. A Korean language watermark on the image, as sourced from the Korean Central News Agency, reads: “KCNA.” (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

During Kim's meeting with Putin on Thursday, he toured the Vostochny space launch site. This signaled interest in Russian help for North Korea's satellite program, amid two recent failed launches. At the summit, Kim offered North Korea's "full support" for Russia's security interests, alluding to Ukraine. The leaders invited each other to visit their capitals.

In this photograph, supplied by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, positioned second from the right in the front row, explores the Arnika Bio-Feed Mill in Vladivostok, Russian Far East, on Sunday, September 17, 2023. Independent journalists were not granted access to document the event depicted in this image, which has been distributed by the North Korean government. The image's content remains unaltered and cannot be independently verified. The watermark in the Korean language on the image, originating from the Korean Central News Agency, bears the abbreviation “KCNA.” (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

Russia Seeks North Korean Arms To Offset Ukraine Losses

In this image, supplied by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, positioned in the center, pays a visit to the Far Eastern Federal University on Russky Island, Vladivostok, Russian Far East, on Sunday, September 17, 2023. Independent journalists were not granted access to cover the event captured in this image, distributed by the North Korean government. The image's content is presented as provided and cannot be independently verified. The Korean language watermark on the image, sourced from the Korean Central News Agency, bears the abbreviation "KCNA." (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

Key factors driving Russia's outreach:

  • Offset critical ammunition and equipment shortages
  • Gain useful missiles and nuclear technology
  • Divert US intelligence resources from Ukraine
  • Apply pressure on US alliances in Asia
  • Leverage historical ties dating to the Soviet-era
  • Expand sanctions-hit trade and economic links

Potential Benefits for North Korea

In this photograph, courtesy of the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, on the left, shares a moment with Oleg Kozhemyako, the Governor of Russia's far eastern region of Primorsky Krai, on the right, during a banquet in Vladivostok, Russian Far East, on Sunday, September 17, 2023. Independent journalists were not granted access to cover the event captured in this image, distributed by the North Korean government. The image's content is presented as provided and cannot be independently verified. The Korean language watermark on the image, sourced from the Korean Central News Agency, bears the abbreviation "KCNA." (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

In return, Russia could provide North Korea:

  • Advanced aircraft, missile and naval technology
  • Materials and expertise to advance nuclear and missile programs
  • Training for pilots and technical personnel
  • Cyber warfare capabilities
  • Sanctions circumvention to access restricted technology
  • Energy infrastructure and food exports

Worries for the United States and Regional Stability

In this image supplied by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stands at the forefront during his visit to the Far Eastern Federal University in Russky Island, Vladivostok, Russian Far East on Sunday, September 17, 2023. Independent journalists were not granted access to cover the event captured in this image, distributed by the North Korean government. The image's content is presented as provided and cannot be independently verified. The Korean language watermark on the image, sourced from the Korean Central News Agency, bears the abbreviation "KCNA." (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

But deeper Russia-North Korea collaboration poses many risks:

  • Accelerating development of North Korean strategic weapons
  • Undermining sanctions via Russian aid
  • Proliferation of nuclear and missile technology
  • Weakening of US alliances with South Korea and Japan
  • Complicating efforts to denuclearize North Korea
  • Expanding Russian influence over North Korea
  • Potential future deployment of Russian military assets
In this photograph supplied by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, positioned at the center, engages with North Korean students at the Far Eastern Federal University in Russky Island, Vladivostok, Russian Far East, on Sunday, September 17, 2023. Independent journalists were not granted access to cover the event portrayed in this image, which was distributed by the North Korean government. The image's content is provided as-is and cannot be independently verified. The watermark on the image, presented in the Korean language, reads "KCNA," representing the Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

To address these concerns, the US and allies will likely seek to strengthen deterrence, restrict sensitive technology exports, ensure sanctions enforcement and promote North Korean denuclearization.

In this photograph released by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, positioned in the center-left, prepares to depart for home at a station in Artyom, near Vladivostok, Russian Far East, on Sunday, September 17, 2023. Independent journalists were not granted access to cover the event portrayed in this image, which was distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is provided as-is and cannot be independently verified. The watermark on the image, in the Korean language, reads "KCNA," signifying the abbreviation for the Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

The Russia-North Korea alignment has worrying implications but remains limited by divergent strategic interests. Managing spill-over risks will require coordinated diplomacy.

In this photograph furnished by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stands at the heart of the Far Eastern Federal University in Russky Island, Vladivostok, Russian Far East, on Sunday, September 17, 2023. Independent journalists were not granted access to cover the event portrayed in this image, which was distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is presented as-is and cannot be independently verified. The watermark in the Korean language on the image, as provided by the source, displays "KCNA," an abbreviation for the Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

But with both nations highly isolated, incentives for cooperation currently outweigh constraints. Kim's Russian sojourn reflected this deepening, even if uneasy, embrace born of shared adversity.

In this photograph supplied by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, positioned second from the left, engages with officials from the Arnika Bio-Feed Mill during his visit to the mill in Vladivostok, Russian Far East, on Sunday, September 17, 2023. Independent journalists were not granted access to cover the event captured in this image, which was disseminated by the North Korean government. The content of this image is provided as-is and cannot be independently verified. The Korean language watermark on the image, as supplied by the source, displays "KCNA," the abbreviation for the Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

Summarised from the original article by - apnews.com

Global ConflictsNorth KoreaRussia North Korea Weapons DealRussia Ukraine ConflictRussia Ukraine WarNorth Korea Russia Weapons DealNorth Korea 2023Kim Jong UnDictatorDictatorshipDictatorship 2023

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