Russia, North Korea to strengthen defence cooperation

Says Moscow; Kyiv top diplomat visits Liberia; new $400 million aid package for Ukraine from US includes Black Hornet spy drone

Russia and North Korea plan to strengthen defence cooperation, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said yesterday after talks in Pyongyang with his North Korean counterpart.

“I am convinced that today’s talks will contribute to strengthening cooperation between our defence departments,” Shoigu said in remarks published by Russia’s Defence Ministry.

Shoigu was heading a Russian delegation visiting North Korea for commemorations marking the 70th anniversary of the Korean War and the struggle against the United States and its allies.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s top diplomat visited Liberia yesterday on a third wartime tour of Africa as Russia prepares to host a summit with leaders from the continent this week after the demise of the Black Sea grain deal.

The Liberia trip by Dmytro Kuleba, the first such visit in the history of Ukrainian diplomacy, according to the foreign ministry, comes amid a concerted push by Kyiv to challenge Russian influence in Africa and the wider “Global South”.

Images from Russia’s defence ministry and North Korean media showed Shoigu being greeted by North Korean defence minister Kang Sun Nam and Russian ambassador Alexander Matsegora at the airport, and rows of North Korean and Russia troops.

The United States has accused North Korea of providing weapons to Russia during the war in Ukraine, including an arms delivery of infantry rockets and missiles to the Kremlin-backed Wagner mercenary group in November 2022.

Pyongyang and Moscow have denied those claims, but Kim has vowed to bolster strategic cooperation between the nations.

The military parade in Pyongyang is likely to include as many as 15,000 personnel, and possibly feature new designs of nuclear-capable weapons, said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.

Elsewhere, The US Department of Defense announced $400 million in additional security assistance for Ukraine on Tuesday, including air defense missiles, armored vehicles and small drones, as Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russia grinds on.

The new aid package, which was first reported by Reuters, will include for the first time US furnished Black Hornet surveillance drones made by Teledyne FLIR Defense, part of Teledyne Technologies TDY.N.

The Norwegian-built Hornet is being used in Ukraine through donations by the British and Norwegian governments, the company said. FLIR Unmanned Aerial Systems was awarded a $93 million contract in April to provide the small reconnaissance drones to the US Army.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Kuleba during his visit to the African country, will hold talks with Liberian leaders to discuss “ensuring the export of Ukrainian grain to Africa” as well as the vision for peace in Ukraine set out by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the ministry said.

“Against the backdrop of Russia’s food blackmail, Ukraine is maximizing its consolidation of support from African countries to continue exporting Ukrainian grain to the Black Sea,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko said this week.

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