North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un left Russia on Sunday with several explosive drones and other unique gifts as his rare trip outside of his country came to an end.
Kim departed Russia following a six-day trip in which he met with President Vladimir Putin, toured various facilities, and visited sites in the country’s Far East. According to Russian news organizations, he was gifted five explosive kamikaze drones, a bulletproof vest, and a reconnaissance drone, Fox News 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,” Russian state media TASS reported regarding the bulletproof vest.
The reconnaissance drone – a Geranium-25 aircraft-type drone – as well as the kamikaze drones and bulletproof vest were given to Kim by the governor of the Russian region of Primorye, which borders both North Korea and China. He also gave the North Korean leader clothing that is reportedly unable to be detected by thermal imaging cameras, according to CNN.
The trip – which a North Korean state media outlet KCNA called “fervent and warm” – was the first the Hermit Kingdom’s leader has taken since the start of the COVID pandemic, and represents “a fresh heyday of friendship and solidarity and cooperation is being opened up in the history of the development of the relations between the DPRK and Russia,” according to the state-run outlet.
On Wednesday, Kim and Putin held a summit in which they discussed military cooperation, space technology, and the Ukraine war. It marked the first in-person meeting between the two leaders since 2019, and it was widely expected to include talks regarding a potential arms deal. Prior to the summit, several reports suggested Putin was in search of ammunition and weapons for the war in Ukraine, while Kim was expected to seek out food and missile technology, according to the Associated Press.
An arms deal between Kim and Putin has not yet been signed, Fox News reports. However, it appears there is a strong possibility of cooperation between the two countries in the future.
“We have shown one of our leading aircraft plants to the leader of [North Korea],” Denis Manturov, the Russian deputy prime minister, said, following a tour given to Kim of a sanctioned fighter jet plant. “We are seeing potential for cooperation in the aircraft-making and other industries, which is particularly acute for solving our countries’ task of achieving technological sovereignty.”
During the summit, Putin suggested that he was open to helping North Korea advance its space program, saying Kim has a “great interest in space, in rocketry” and that Russia would “show our new objects. We’ll talk about all the issues without haste, there is time.” This year alone, North Korea has failed twice in launching a space satellite – once in May, and again in August – despite prioritizing space technology, CNN reports.
U.S. State Department head of the Office of Sanctions Coordination James O’Brien blasted the summit, saying, “Russia is now overtly engaging with a country that the U.N. has sanctioned. And that’s very problematic for Russia’s global position.”
According to Fox News, Kim invited Putin to visit North Korea in the near future, and North Korean state media said Putin “accepted the invitation with pleasure and reaffirmed his will to invariably carry forward the history and tradition of the Russia-DPRK friendship.” The Kremlin, however, has not confirmed a trip is in the works.