Did Kim Jong-un snub Putin because Russia refused to sell him anti-aircraft missiles?
Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, refused to attend events in Moscow to commemorate the end of the Second World War after Russia refused to sell his regime surface-to-air missile systems, it has been claimed.
A Hong Kong television report says that Hyon Yong-chol, the North Korean minister of the People’s Armed Forces, made the request to purchase four S-300 long-range launch units and their missiles when he visited Moscow in April.
Initially deployed by the Soviet Union in 1979, the S-300 is designed to intercept aircraft and cruise missiles. The latest versions of the system has a range of 250 miles.
Quoting a Russian defence expert, Phoenix TV reported that Moscow was not impressed with Pyongyang’s proposal for a barter deal for the weapons.
It is not clear what North Korea was offering in return for the missile launchers, but talks have previously taken place between the two governments on the sale of mineral resources to Russia.
Pyongyang may also have proposed increased access to the Rason Special Economic Zone, in the north-east of the country.
The analyst also said Russia declined the request out of concern that it could impact the “strategic balance” in north-east Asia and that any deal would require approval from China and other countries.
Earlier reports had suggested that Mr Kim declined the invitation from Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, to attend the celebrations because Moscow had refused Pyongyang’s demands that the young dictator be afforded “special treatment” over the other international leaders who will be attending.
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