Russia-Ukraine war live: Kim Jong-un meets Russia’s defence minister and inspects nuclear-capable bombers

Kim Jong-un inspects Russian nuclear-capable bombers after meeting Sergei Shoigu

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspected Russian nuclear-capable strategic bombers and hypersonic “Kinzhal” missiles on Saturday, accompanied by President Vladimir Putin’s defence minister.

Reuters reports a smiling Kim was greeted by Sergei Shoigu in Russia’s Knevichi, about 50km (30 miles) from the far eastern Russian city of Vladivostok. Shoigu saluted Kim before the North Korean leader inspected a guard of honour.

Shoigu then showed Kim Russia’s strategic bombers – the Tu-160, Tu-95 and Tu-22M3 – which are capable of carrying nuclear weapons and form the backbone of Russia’s nuclear air attack force.

Shoigu told Kim of one of the aircraft:

It can fly from Moscow to Japan and then back again.

Kim Jong-un and Sergei Shoigu inspect Russian military aircraft and missiles at Knevichi aerodrome near Vladivostok, Russia, on Saturday
Kim Jong-un and Sergei Shoigu inspect Russian military aircraft and missiles at Knevichi aerodrome near Vladivostok, Russia, on Saturday. Photograph: Russian ddefence ministry/Reuters

Kim was shown asking about how the missiles were fired from the aircraft. A Russian official told him the strategic bombers were one of the key parts of Russia’s nuclear forces.

Kim 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.

The Kremlin said no agreements had been signed during Kim’s visit.

Key events

Russia likely boosting capacity to attack Ukrainian energy facilities, says UK MoD

Russia will probably be able to build a significant stockpile of air-launched cruise missiles and use them to target Ukrainian infrastructure over the coming winter, the UK Ministry of Defence says.

In its latest intelligence update, the ministry said that air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs) – particularly the modern AS-23a Kodiak – were at the heart of most of Russia’s long-range strikes against Ukraine’s national energy infrastructure between October 2022 and March 2023.

Firefighters at work after a Russian attack targeting energy infrastructure in Kyiv in October 2022
Firefighters at work after a Russian attack targeting energy infrastructure in Kyiv in October 2022. Photograph: State Emergency Service of Ukraine/UPI/REX/Shutterstock

Russia used strategic bomber aircraft to release those munitions from deep within Russian territory, the ministry said its update, posted on Twitter/X.

Open source reports suggest that since April 2023, ALCM expenditure rates have reduced, while Russian leaders have highlighted efforts to increase the rate of cruise missile production.

Russia is therefore likely able to generate a significant stockpile of ALCMs. There is a realistic possibility Russia will again focus these weapons against Ukrainian infrastructure targets over the winter.

The US expects to announce additional aid to Ukraine next week, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said, while announcing President Joe Biden would host Volodymyr Zelenskiy next Thursday at the White House.

The Ukrainian leader was also expected to meet with congressional leaders from both political parties while he was in Washington, Sullivan said on Friday.

Reuters, citing three US officials, has reported that the US is considering shipping army tactical missile systems (ATACMS) that can fly up to 300km (190 miles) or guided multiple launch rocket system (GMLRS) missiles with a 70km (45-mile) range packed with cluster bombs, or both systems.

Kyiv has repeatedly asked the Biden administration for ATACMS to help attack and disrupt supply lines, air bases and rail networks in Russian occupied territory.

But a source familiar with the situation said the US did not plan to announce ATACMS for Ukraine during Zelenskiy’s visit to the White House next week.

An ATACMS missile being fired
An ATACMS missile being fired. Photograph: Yonhap News Agency/Reuters

Kim Jong-un inspects Russian nuclear-capable bombers after meeting Sergei Shoigu

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspected Russian nuclear-capable strategic bombers and hypersonic “Kinzhal” missiles on Saturday, accompanied by President Vladimir Putin’s defence minister.

Reuters reports a smiling Kim was greeted by Sergei Shoigu in Russia’s Knevichi, about 50km (30 miles) from the far eastern Russian city of Vladivostok. Shoigu saluted Kim before the North Korean leader inspected a guard of honour.

Shoigu then showed Kim Russia’s strategic bombers – the Tu-160, Tu-95 and Tu-22M3 – which are capable of carrying nuclear weapons and form the backbone of Russia’s nuclear air attack force.

Shoigu told Kim of one of the aircraft:

It can fly from Moscow to Japan and then back again.

Kim Jong-un and Sergei Shoigu inspect Russian military aircraft and missiles at Knevichi aerodrome near Vladivostok, Russia, on Saturday
Kim Jong-un and Sergei Shoigu inspect Russian military aircraft and missiles at Knevichi aerodrome near Vladivostok, Russia, on Saturday. Photograph: Russian ddefence ministry/Reuters

Kim was shown asking about how the missiles were fired from the aircraft. A Russian official told him the strategic bombers were one of the key parts of Russia’s nuclear forces.

Kim 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.

The Kremlin said no agreements had been signed during Kim’s visit.

Opening summary

Hello and welcome back to our rolling coverage of the war in Ukraine. I’m Adam Fulton and here’s an overview of the latest.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspected Russian nuclear-capable strategic bombers and hypersonic missiles on Saturday, accompanied by the Russian defence minister.

Sergei Shoigu greeted Kim near the Russian city of Vladivostok and then showed him the strategic bombers that form the backbone of Russia’s nuclear air attack force.

Kim’s rare trip abroad has fanned fears that Moscow and Pyongyang will strike an arms deal in defiance of sanctions – concerns the Kremlin has denied.

More on that story shortly. In other news:

  • The Ukrainian military says it has seized the village of Andriivka in the partially occupied Donetsk region. The battle around Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine caused Russian forces “significant losses in manpower and equipment”, the Ukrainian armed forces’ general staff said on Facebook. It also had “partial success in the area of Klishchiivka”, it said, while Russian forces were continuing to try to break through Ukrainian defences in the Bohdanivka area.

  • A Russian drone attack in western Ukraine was an attempt to target warplanes used this week to attack Russian-occupied Crimea, Ukrainian air force colonel Yuriy Ihnat has said. Russia fired 17 drones overnight on Thursday at the central Khmelnytskyi region that is home to the Starokostiantyniv airbase, Ukraine’s air force said. Debris damaged 12 homes and shattered windows in a school but no one was hurt, regional official Serhiy Tiurin said.

  • Volodymyr Zelenskiy will visit Washington next week and meet President Joe Biden, the White House confirmed on Friday. The Ukrainian president will also hold meetings at the US Congress as it debates providing as much as $21bn in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Zelenskiy’s second wartime trip to Washington will come after meetings with other world leaders at the UN general assembly in New York.

A damaged Russian ship following a Ukrainian missile attack on Sevastopol, Crimea, on Wednesday
A damaged Russian ship following a Ukrainian missile attack on Sevastopol, Crimea, on Wednesday. Photograph: Social media/Reuters
  • A Ukrainian sea drone damaged the “Samum” small Russian missile ship in an attack at the entrance to occupied Crimea’s Sevastopol Bay and the vessel had to be towed away for repairs, a Ukrainian intelligence source said on Friday. Russia’s defence ministry said the previous day that it repelled an attack on the Samum in the Black Sea, during which it destroyed a naval drone.

  • The European Union said on Friday it was ending an import ban on Ukrainian grain in five member states but Poland, Hungary and Slovakia immediately announced they would defy the move. The EU’s decision had been taken after Kyiv agreed to introduce measures such as an export licensing system within 30 days to “avoid grain surges”, the European Commission said.

  • Tens of thousands of Jewish pilgrims gathered in the Ukrainian city of Uman on Friday to mark the Rosh Hashanah religious festival, despite warnings not to travel due to Russia’s invasion. Security was tightened ahead of this year’s gathering, as Ukrainian officials urged pilgrims to follow warnings. “At present, about 32,000 pilgrims have already arrived in Uman,” said Iryna Rybnytska from the Historical Cultural Centre of Uman.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish pilgrims dance ahead of Rosh Hashanah in Uman, central Ukraine, on Friday
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish pilgrims dance ahead of Rosh Hashanah in Uman, central Ukraine, on Friday. Photograph: Oleg Petrasyuk/EPA
  • A Ukrainian court has ordered a former government minister to be detained for 60 days with no option of bail on suspicion of espousing pro-Russian sentiments and committing treason. Nestor Shufrych is accused of maintaining contacts with a fugitive Ukrainian parliamentarian suspected by investigators to have worked for Russian security services and of abetting plans to encourage pro-Moscow separatism in eastern Ukraine. “This is what the authorities need,” Shufrych said in a video issued by Public Suspilne Television as court officials led him away on Friday.

  • A leading Russian general has resurfaced in Algeria after disappearing from public view following the Wagner mercenary group’s attempted mutiny in June. Nicknamed “Gen Armageddon”, Sergei Surovikin was removed from his post as commander of Russia’s aerospace force in August, two months after the mercenary group sought to topple Russia’s military command.

  • Satellite images appear to show the dismantling of a Wagner militia base south-east of the Belarusian capital, Minsk. The images of activity in recent weeks showed tents being taken down at the Tsel military base in Mogilev region, and may indicate the winding down of the Russian mercenary company’s presence in the country after the brief mutiny in Russia.

source: theguardian.com