North Korea's Kim Jong Un returns from Russia with bulletproof vest, rifle, fur hat, and dronesas parting gifts while wrapping up a trip to Russia that has alarmed the West over the potential for military cooperation between Moscow and Pyongyang.
The send-off capped a rare, six-day visit that saw Kim hold talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, raising the possibility North Korea could provide Russia with weaponry to aid its invasion of Ukraine.
On Sunday, Kim left the eastern city of Vladivostok, where he inspected warplanes, toured an airfield, and visited a Pacific Fleet frigate, to return to Pyongyang in his heavily-armored private train following a grand farewell ceremony, Russian and North Korean state media reported.
Traveling more than 4,000 kilometers (2,400 miles) across eastern Russia, the North Korean leader was given the red carpet treatment throughout his trip, much of which was spent visiting military sites.
North Korea is heavily sanctioned and is in need of everything from energy to food to military technology.
The North Korean leader visited an aircraft manufacturing plant in the city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur in eastern Russia on Friday
As Kim left, the governor of the far eastern Russian region of Primorye gave him a bulletproof vest and a set of drones, Russian state news agency TASS reported.
The bulletproof vest was described as being lighter and more advanced than its analogs. Kim was also presented with five attack drones produced in the same region, as well as a Geranium-25 aircraft-type reconnaissance drone.
A set of special clothing that is invisible to thermal imaging cameras was an additional gift.
South Korea, Japan, Ukraine, the United States, and European countries have been alarmed by the visit, with several nations issuing a warning regarding potential violations of international sanctions by North Korea and Russia.
The talks signaled closer relations between the two countries, both of which face international isolation – Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and North Korea for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program.
Kim is known to have received a Russian-made rifle, a cosmonaut's glove, and military drones as parting gifts from Russia. These gifts, particularly the military drones, potentially violate U.N. sanctions.
North Korea has a museum dedicated to showcasing gifts received by its leaders, and these recent gifts will likely find a place there.
The International Friendship Exhibition in North Korea is dedicated to showcasing gifts received by the North's leaders.
It comprises more than 100 showrooms with over 115,000 items from more than 200 countries. The museum is known for its vast collection, often compared to the Louvre in Paris.
Among the notable gifts in the museum are crystalware from former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, a tea cup set from French President Francois Mitterrand, a basketball signed by Michael Jordan given by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and a rifle given by the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
North Korea's Kim Jong Un is waving hands while standing near train.
Putin spoke of Kim's "great interest" in space technology and Kim's backing for Putin during their five-hour meeting at Russia's Vostochny Cosmodrom spaceport.
As a result of the negotiations, ties between the two nations, who are both suffering from international isolation, have grown closer.
After touring the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Yuri Gagarin Aviation Plant, Kim was reportedly pleased by Russia's aircraft manufacturing business, as reported by North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency.
Kim and Shoigu spoke about the possibility of military cooperation. Several nations including South Korea, Japan, Ukraine, the United States, and European countries have issued cautions against the visit due to concerns that North Korea and Russia may violate international sanctions.
In the midst of its ongoing conflict with Ukraine, Moscow is in dire need of new ammunition and shells, while North Korea may be able to acquire legal ballistic missile technology to further its nuclear goals.
Kim Jong Un's visit to Russia and the controversial gifts he received have heightened international tensions and concerns.
The exchange of military technology, potential violations of U.N. sanctions, and the undisclosed nature of diplomatic negotiations all contribute to the uncertainty surrounding this diplomatic episode.
As the world continues to monitor developments, the implications of these events on regional and global dynamics remain a subject of considerable scrutiny and apprehension.