Russia, N.Korea To Carry Out Joint Military Exercises

North Korea and Russia will carry out joint military drills between their naval and air forces next year, a Russian military spokesman said Tuesday. Eastern Military District spokesman Lt. Col. Igor Muginov said Commander of the Eastern Military District Konstantin Sidenko met with the chief of general staff of the North Korean People’s Army, Ri Yong-ho, last month and discussed joint search and rescue drills for wrecked ships. 

The idea came from North Korea, according to Russian daily Kommersant. Voice of Russia also reported that the North Korean official leading military cooperation with Russia is Kim Jong-un, the son and heir apparent of leader Kim Jong-il. 

The Russian state radio station added Kim junior, whose power base is the military, is trying to show off the country’s capacity to carry out joint military drills with neighbors. 

Russian media reported the drills will be followed by mutual visits of military ships. However, they said it is unlikely that Russia will hand over equipment and technology to North Korea due to international sanctions. 

Japan’s Asahi Shimbun on Tuesday said Kim Jong-il during a recent Russia visit asked for full-scale military drills including attack and defense exercises, but Russia demurred. 

Since Kim Jong-il’s visit, cooperative ties between North Korea and Russia seem to have improved. Russian daily Izvestia on Wednesday cited a source in Russia’s Finance Ministry as saying Moscow has virtually decided to write off the entire US$11 billion North Korea has owed since the Soviet era. North Korea had been demanding the write-off for the last 10 years.

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