North Korea’s Kim Visits University in Vladivostok as State Media Reports on Arms Talks with Moscow

This picture taken on September 16, 2023 and released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 17, 2023 shows North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (L) shaking hands with Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (R) after receiving a gift at their luncheon during a visit to the port in Vladivostok, Primorsky region. (KCNA via KNS / AFP)
This picture taken on September 16, 2023 and released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 17, 2023 shows North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (L) shaking hands with Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (R) after receiving a gift at their luncheon during a visit to the port in Vladivostok, Primorsky region. (KCNA via KNS / AFP)
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North Korea’s Kim Visits University in Vladivostok as State Media Reports on Arms Talks with Moscow

This picture taken on September 16, 2023 and released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 17, 2023 shows North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (L) shaking hands with Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (R) after receiving a gift at their luncheon during a visit to the port in Vladivostok, Primorsky region. (KCNA via KNS / AFP)
This picture taken on September 16, 2023 and released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 17, 2023 shows North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (L) shaking hands with Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (R) after receiving a gift at their luncheon during a visit to the port in Vladivostok, Primorsky region. (KCNA via KNS / AFP)

A day after inspecting Russia’s nuclear-capable bombers and other advanced weapons, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sunday continued a trip to Russia's Far East with a visit to a university in Vladivostok, while his state media back home reported on his efforts to expand military cooperation with Moscow.

Kim’s visit to the Far Eastern Federal University came a day after Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and other senior military officials showed him some of Russia’s most advanced weapons systems deployed for its war on Ukraine, including strategic bombers and hypersonic missiles, and a key warship of its Pacific fleet.

Kim also discussed with Shoigu strengthening “strategic and tactical coordination” between the countries’ militaries, the North’s Korean Central News Agency said, as concerns grow about an arms alliance that could possibly fuel Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine.

While Kim's predominant focus is on military cooperation, he also appears to be using his trip to encourage broader exchanges between the countries as he tries to break out of diplomatic isolation.

Russia’s RIA Novosti state news agency released a video of Kim dressed in a black suit and accompanied by his top officials arriving at the university on Russky Island.

Kim was later expected to meet Oleg Kozhemyako, governor of Russia’s Primorye region, which includes Vladivostok, for discussions on exchange programs for schoolchildren to attend summer camps in each other’s country, and also visit some food industry businesses in the region.

Kim’s trip, highlighted by a summit with Putin on Wednesday, has underscored how their interests are aligning in the face of separate, intensifying confrontations with the West. US and South Korean officials have said North Korea could provide badly needed munitions for Moscow’s war on Ukraine in exchange for sophisticated Russian weapons technology that would advance Kim’s nuclear ambitions.

A day after visiting an aircraft plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur that produces Russia’s most powerful fighter jets, Kim on Saturday traveled to an airport near Vladivostok, where Shoigu and other senior military officials gave him an up-close look at Russia’s strategic bombers and other warplanes.

All the Russian warplanes shown to Kim were among the types that have seen active use in the war in Ukraine, including the Tu-160, Tu-95 and Tu-22 bombers that have regularly launched cruise missiles.

During Kim’s visit, Shoigu and Lt. Gen. Sergei Kobylash, the commander of the Russian long-range bomber force, confirmed for the first time that the Tu-160 had recently received new cruise missiles with a range of more than 6,500 kilometers (over 4,040 miles).

Shoigu, who had met Kim during a rare visit to North Korea in July, also showed Kim another of Russia’s latest missiles, the hypersonic Kinzhal, carried by the MiG-31 fighter jet, that saw its first combat during the war in Ukraine.

Kim and Shoigu later traveled to Vladivostok, where they inspected the Admiral Shaposhnikov frigate. Russia’s navy commander, Adm. Nikolai Yevmenov, briefed Kim on the ship’s capabilities and weapons, which include long-range Kalibr cruise missiles that Russian warships have regularly fired at targets in Ukraine.

KCNA, which has reported Kim’s activities in Russia a day late while crafting the details to meet government propaganda purposes, said Kim was accompanied on Saturday’s visits by his top military officials, including his defense minister and the top commanders of his air force and navy.

Following a luncheon, Kim and Shoigu talked about the regional security environment and exchanged views on “practical issues arising in further strengthening the strategic and tactical coordination, cooperation and mutual exchange between the armed forces of the two countries,” KCNA said.

In their July meeting, Kim gave Shoigu a similar inspection of North Korean weapons systems before inviting him to a massive parade in the capital, Pyongyang, where he rolled out his most powerful intercontinental ballistic missiles designed to target the United States.

Kim’s visits to military and technology sites this week possibly hint at what he wants from Russia, perhaps in exchange for supplying munitions to refill Putin’s declining reserves as his invasion of Ukraine becomes a drawn-out war of attrition.

Kim’s meeting with Putin was held at Russia’s main spaceport, a location that pointed to his desire for Russian assistance in his efforts to acquire space-based reconnaissance assets and missile technologies.

Experts have said potential military cooperation between the countries could include efforts to modernize North Korea’s outdated air force, which relies on warplanes sent from the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

Kim in recent months has also refocused on strengthening the country’s navy, which analysts say could be driven by ambitions to obtain Russia’s sophisticated technologies for ballistic missile submarines and nuclear-propelled submarines as well as to initiate joint naval exercises between Russia and North Korea.

Later Saturday, Kim visited a local theater to watch Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty ballet performance. KCNA said Kim received a rousing ovation by people at the theater and expressed “deep thanks to the performers and the theater for their impressive and elegant ballet of high artistic value.”

Russian state media said Kim left after the first act.



Erdogan Dampens Hopes for Restarting Talks on Cyprus' 50-year Ethnic Split

A handout photo made available by the Turkish President Press office shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (front-L) and Turkish Cyprus President Ersin Tatar (front-R) laying wreath to monument of the Mustafa Kemal Ataturk during their meeting in the Turkish-administered northern part of the divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, 15 November 2020. EPA/TURKISH PRESIDENT PRESS OFFICE / HANDOUT
A handout photo made available by the Turkish President Press office shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (front-L) and Turkish Cyprus President Ersin Tatar (front-R) laying wreath to monument of the Mustafa Kemal Ataturk during their meeting in the Turkish-administered northern part of the divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, 15 November 2020. EPA/TURKISH PRESIDENT PRESS OFFICE / HANDOUT
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Erdogan Dampens Hopes for Restarting Talks on Cyprus' 50-year Ethnic Split

A handout photo made available by the Turkish President Press office shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (front-L) and Turkish Cyprus President Ersin Tatar (front-R) laying wreath to monument of the Mustafa Kemal Ataturk during their meeting in the Turkish-administered northern part of the divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, 15 November 2020. EPA/TURKISH PRESIDENT PRESS OFFICE / HANDOUT
A handout photo made available by the Turkish President Press office shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (front-L) and Turkish Cyprus President Ersin Tatar (front-R) laying wreath to monument of the Mustafa Kemal Ataturk during their meeting in the Turkish-administered northern part of the divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, 15 November 2020. EPA/TURKISH PRESIDENT PRESS OFFICE / HANDOUT

The Turkish president on Saturday put a damper on hopes for a quick resumption of talks to heal a half-century of ethnic division on Cyprus, reaffirming his support for a two-state deal that Greek Cypriots dismiss as a non-starter.

Speaking ahead of a military parade to mark the 50th anniversary of a Turkish invasion that split the island along ethnic lines, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ruled out a peace deal based on a United Nations-endorsed plan for federation.

Although Erdogan has previously rejected the federation plan, Greece and the Greek Cypriots had hoped he would soften his position.

The anniversary is a festive occasion for Turkish Cypriots in the island's northern third, who view the invasion as salvation from the Greek-speaking majority's domination. The invasion followed a coup that aimed at a union with Greece, which was backed by the Junta then ruling in Athens, according to The AP.

In the south, the howl of air raid sirens at daybreak began a solemn day marking what Greek Cypriots remember as a catastrophe that left thousands of people dead or missing and displaced a quarter of the Greek Cypriot population.

Erdogan’s remarks may further complicate UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ effort to get both sides back to the negotiating table. His personal envoy, Maria Angela Holguin Cuellar, has spent the past six months scoping both sides out.

“We will continue to fight with determination for the recognition of the TRNC (breakaway Turkish Cypriot state) and the implementation of a two-state solution," Erdogan told throngs of Turkish Cypriots lining the parade route in scorching heat in the northern half of the divided capital, Nicosia.

“A federal solution in Cyprus is not possible, this is what we believe. ... The Turkish Cypriot side, as equals with the Greek side, are willing to negotiate and are ready to sit down and negotiate. If you want a solution, you need to recognize the rights of Turkish Cypriots."

Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar reiterated that Turkish Cypriots reject “domination” by the Greek Cypriot majority and seek “equal national status” for their breakaway state they unilaterally declared in 1983, which is only recognized by Turkey. He added that there's now “no common ground” for a return to peace negotiations.

Referring to a recent resolution in the Ankara parliament calling for a two-state solution, Tatar said it “will help us and our cause incredibly.”

The island's Greek Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides urged Türkiye and the Turkish Cypriots to re-engage in reunification talks if Ankara genuinely seeks regional security and stability and to nudge closer to the European Union.

After numerous failed rounds of peace negotiations, many Cypriots on both sides — although jaded — still hold out a glimmer of hope for a peace deal.