- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has left Russia, wrapping up his six-day trip.
- Before leaving, Kim was reportedly given five explosive drones, a reconnaissance drone and a bulletproof vest.
- The trip has fuelled Western fears that Pyongyang might provide Moscow with arms to use in Ukraine.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has left Russia on his armoured train, ending a visit affirming close ties with Vladimir Putin and fuelling Western fears that Pyongyang might provide Moscow with arms for its assault on Ukraine.
, which began on Tuesday, has focused extensively on military matters, with his own entourage dominated by officers, a symbolic exchange of rifles with Putin and a tour of a fighter jet factory in Komsomolsk-on-Amur.
Before departing, the official TASS news agency said Kim had been given five explosive drones, a reconnaissance drone and a bulletproof vest as gifts from a regional governor.
The Russian agency said the “leader of the DPRK received five kamikaze drones and a ‘Geran-25’ reconnaissance drone with vertical takeoff”, using the official name of North Korea.
TASS said the governor of the Primorye region, which borders China and North Korea, also “offered Kim Jong-un a set of bulletproof protection” and “special clothing not detectable by thermal cameras”.
Later on Sunday the Ria Novosti agency published a video of Kim’s departure, and said a “departure ceremony” was held at the Artyom-Primorsky-1 station.
Footage shows Kim waving goodbye from his train to a Russian delegation led by Natural Resources Minister Alexander Kozlov, before the Russian march “Farewell of Slavianka” is played as the train departs.
A send-off ceremony for Kim Jong-un takes place in Artyom, 40km northeast of Vladivostok, following an extended tour of Russia. Source: AAP / TASS/Sipa USA
TASS said that Kim’s train was headed towards the border.
Historic allies, Russia and North Korea are both under rafts of global sanctions, Moscow for its Ukraine assault, Pyongyang for its nuclear tests.
The first official visit abroad for the North Korean leader since the coronavirus pandemic has fanned Western fears that Moscow and Pyongyang will defy sanctions and strike an arms deal.
‘A new era of friendship, solidarity and cooperation’
After meeting Kim on Wednesday at the Vostochny cosmodrome, roughly 8,000 kilometres from Moscow, Putin talked up the prospect of greater cooperation with North Korea and the “possibilities” for military ties.
Moscow is believed to be interested in buying North Korean ammunition to continue fighting in Ukraine, while Pyongyang wants Russia’s help to develop its internationally condemned missile program.
The Kremlin has said no agreement has or will be signed.
On Saturday Kim met the Russian defence minister in Vladivostok, where he inspected state-of-the-art weapons including a hypersonic missile system.
The pair were seen smiling as they inspected some of Russia’s nuclear bombers at an airfield before boarding a warship, a video released by the Russian defence ministry showed.
North Korean news agency KCNA has described the atmosphere during Kim’s visit as “fervent and warm” and said a “new era of friendship, solidarity and cooperation” was opening between North Korea and Russia.
While meeting Kim, Putin accepted an invitation to visit North Korea and offered to send a North Korean to space, which would be a first.