North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has recently hosted Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Pyongyang, showing him some of the country’s latest weapons and military equipment. The meeting, which took place on Wednesday, was part of the celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, or “Victory Day” as North Korea calls it.

Kim led Shoigu on a tour of a defense exhibition being held to mark the war anniversary displaying newly developed weapons and military equipment, KCNA says

According to North Korea’s state media KCNA, Kim and Shoigu discussed the “worldwide trend of weaponry development and its strategy” and exchanged views on the issues of mutual concern in the struggle to safeguard the sovereignty, development and interests of the two countries from the “high-handed and arbitrary practices of the imperialists” and to realize international justice and peace. Kim also expressed his gratitude to Russian President Vladimir Putin for sending a letter and a military delegation led by Shoigu, saying that it deepened the “strategic and traditional” relations between North Korea and Russia.

The highlight of the meeting was a tour of a defense exhibition that displayed some of North Korea’s banned ballistic missiles, such as the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that can theoretically reach any part of the United States. The exhibition also featured what appeared to be a new drone, according to analysts. North Korea is prohibited from developing weapons that use ballistic missile technology by United Nations Security Council resolutions, but it has repeatedly defied them with numerous missile tests in recent years.

The meeting between Kim and Shoigu also comes amid rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine over the latter’s aspiration to join NATO and its ongoing conflict with pro-Russian separatists in its eastern regions. North Korea has expressed its support for Russia’s “battle for justice” and to protect its sovereignty, according to KCNA. North Korea has also been accused of shipping weapons including infantry rockets and missiles to Russia in support of its war in Ukraine, which the White House has condemned as a violation of international law. North Korea denies it has conducted any arms transactions with Russia.

The meeting between Kim and Shoigu shows that North Korea is not isolated from the international community, despite its self-imposed lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also demonstrates that North Korea is keen to showcase its military prowess and technological advancement to its allies and adversaries alike. Whether this will help or hinder the prospects of resuming dialogue with the United States remains to be seen.

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