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Russian Defense Ministry Plane Makes Mysterious Flight To North Korea

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Russian Defense Ministry Plane Makes Mysterious Flight To North Korea

Experts have put forward several possible versions.

A Russian Defence Ministry Il-62M plane made an unannounced flight to Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, a few days after the end of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's visit to Russia.

Experts admit that the flight indicates that Russia and Korea are preparing a more serious deal than just an arms purchase, dialog.ua reported.

The plane, with flight number RA-86559, flew to Pyongyang on 25 September, according to the Flightradar24 service.

It returned to Moscow on 27 September. This flight was not announced by either the Russian or North Korean side. The same plane flew to Pyongyang in early August, a few days after Shoigu's visit to the North Korean capital.

NK News, a website specialising in news from North Korea, cites several possible reasons for the flight: a trip by Russian military officials, preparations for a visit to North Korea by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (scheduled for October) or Putin.

As Bloomberg points out, at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, North Korea closed air traffic with other countries and has not opened it since.

In this situation, two visits by a Russian delegation to the country in the space of a few weeks could signal a serious rapprochement between the two authoritarian regimes. North Korea may be seeking to acquire dual-use technologies that could be transferred under the guise of assistance to its space and nuclear programmes in accordance with international norms, NK News reported.

At the same time, transferring technology to Pyongyang that could be used to build missiles and nuclear bombs would violate UN Security Council resolutions.

"The extent to which Russia is willing to circumvent UN Security Council resolutions is another big question. In particular, the public demonstration by Russia and North Korea of their willingness to strengthen military ties could indicate that we're in for more in the near future, and it won't necessarily be all behind closed doors," said Open Nuclear Network analyst Jevu Shin.

Bloomberg reporters sent a request for comment to the Russian defence ministry but did not receive a response. Kim Jong-un visited Russia in mid-September.

During his visit, he toured the Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russian military aircraft, the civilian SJ-100 and the upgraded Marshall Shaposhnikov frigate, and met with Putin.

According to media and foreign intelligence reports, the two leaders may have discussed, among other things, arms purchases from North Korea.

Shoigu travelled to North Korea ahead of Putin. During his visit, he inspected various weapons, including ballistic missiles, Reuters wrote.

US intelligence believes that Shoigu travelled to North Korea to agree to expand military cooperation between the two countries.

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