VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin is set to meet North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, possibly at Russia’s most modern space rocket launch site, on Wednesday amid the forests of the eastern Russia.
What is the Vostochny Cosmodrome?
* The cosmodrome, which came into service in 2016, is in the Amur region of Russia’s Far East, not far from the Russian border with China and about 1,500 km (930 miles) from the port of Vladivostok. In Russian, the name means simply “Eastern Cosmodrome”.
* Putin ordered the construction of the cosmodrome to reduce reliance on the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, which gained independence after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.
* There was once a Soviet intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) base known as Svobodny 18 just a few kilometres from the Vostochny complex. That base shut down in 1993.
* Meeting Kim, cast by former U.S. President Donald Trump as the “rocket man”, at Vostochny puts a spotlight on Western concerns about the development of North Korea’s missile capabilities.
North Korea’s latest Hwasong-18 intercontinental ballistic missile – its first ICBM to use solid rocket fuel – has reignited debate over possible Russian links to the nuclear-armed state’s dramatic missile development.
* Vostochny cost billions of dollars, giving a boost to the local economy. But construction was mired by repeated delays and several corruption scandals.
* The first launch was in 2016, when a Soyuz-2 rocket blasted off. The most recent launch was a Soyuz rocket carrying the ill-fated Luna-25 moon spacecraft, which crashed into the moon.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge. Editing by Gerry Doyle)