North Korean leader Kim Jong Un received body armor and drones as parting gifts as he wrapped up a trip to Russia that has alarmed the West.
The send-off capped a rare, six-day visit that saw him hold talks with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, raising the possibility North Korea could provide Russia with weaponry to aid its invasion of Ukraine.
Kim travels little abroad and was given a lavish welcome, spending much of the trip visiting military sites. North Korea is heavily sanctioned and is in need of everything from energy to food to military technology.
As he left, the governor of the far eastern Russian region of Primorye gave him a bulletproof vest and a set of drones, Russian state media TASS reported.
“This is a body armor with protection zones for the chest, shoulders, throat and groin, and it is much lighter than its known analogs,” the state news agency added.
Kim was also presented with five kamikaze drones produced in the same region, as well as a Geranium-25 aircraft-type reconnaissance drone, TASS added. A set of special clothing that is invisible to thermal imaging cameras was an additional gift.
Following a farewell ceremony that included red carpet and honor guards, Kim was seen boarding his personal armored train, which left Artyom railway station while Russian officials waved, in a video published by Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti.
The train is expected to travel more than 200 kilometers (124 miles) from Artyom to the border town of Khasan, according to RIA.
A trip with a military focus
Kim and Putin met in Russia’s Far East on Wednesday and engaged in a five-hour long meeting at Vostochny Cosmodrom spaceport, in which Putin said Kim showed “great interest” – North Korea has made space technology a priority.
Kim offered his support for Putin after their talks, saying “I will always be standing with Russia.” Putin described their discussions as “very substantive.”
In the backdrop of the meeting was the US government’s warning from earlier in the month that arms negotiations were “actively advancing” between the two countries. No deals have been publicly announced.
North Korean state media KCNA reported that Kim was “deeply impressed” by Russia’s aircraft manufacturing industry after a trip to the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Yuri Gagarin Aviation Plant on Friday. Kim visited various facilities, including a fighter jet fuselage assembly shop and wing production shop.
On Saturday, he inspected warplanes, toured an airfield with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and visited a Pacific Fleet frigate, accompanied by the commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy.
Military cooperation “between the armed forces of the two countries and in the fields of their national defense and security” was discussed between Kim and Shoigu, according to KCNA.
South Korea, Japan, Ukraine, the US and countries in Europe have been alarmed by the visit, but what will come from it is yet to fully be revealed.