North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Friday inspected a Russian fighter jet factory that is under Western sanctions, part of a visit Washington and its allies fear could strengthen Russia’s military in Ukraine and bolster Pyongyang’s missile program.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kim discussed military matters, the war in Ukraine and deepening cooperation when they met on Wednesday.
South Korea and the United States said on Friday that military cooperation between North Korea and Russia was a violation of U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang, and that the allies would ensure there is a price to pay.
Putin told reporters Russia was “not going to violate anything”, but would keep developing relations with North Korea. His spokesman said no agreements had been signed during Kim’s visit on military issues or any other topic.
U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the U.S. view before and after Kim’s visit was that “talks about the provision of weapons by North Korea to Russia, to kill Ukrainians, have been advancing and continued to advance.”
“We’re not going to take their word for that, or basically anything they say,” he told a White House press briefing, when asked about the Russian statement. “We’ll see what actually ends up happening.”
“I can’t name a specific agreement for you today, but we take a look at that with a heavy grain of salt,” Sullivan added.
He said Russia, and China, had legal obligations to uphold U.N. resolutions on North Korea.
“We have very real concerns based on what Russia has just done, that they are going to live up to their basic responsibility as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council,” Sullivan said.
Kim, 39, on Friday visited aviation facilities in the far eastern city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur, the Yuri Gagarin Aviation Plant and the Yakovlev plant, both units of United Aircraft Corporation, which is under Western sanctions.
At the Gagarin plant, which is also specifically under U.S. sanctions, Kim inspected assembly workshops where the Sukhoi Su-35 multirole fighter and Su-57 fighter are made, escorted by Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov, the government said.