US: Russia buys missiles and artillery shells from North Korea

WASHINGTON (AP) – Russia’s Defense Ministry is in the process of buying millions of missiles and artillery shells from North Korea for its ongoing fight in Ukraine, according to a newly downgraded finding by US intelligence.

A US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the intelligence investigation, said Monday that Russia’s turning to the isolated state of North Korea shows that “the Russian military continues to face severe supply shortages in Ukraine is suffering, which is expected to be part of export controls and sanctions shortly.”

US intelligence officials believe the Russians may try to buy additional North Korean military equipment in the future. The intelligence finding was first reported by the New York Times.

The US official did not specify how many weapons Russia intends to buy from North Korea.

The finding comes after the Biden administration recently confirmed that the Russian military received Iranian-made drones in August for use on the battlefield in Ukraine.

The White House said last week Russia is experiencing technical problems with Iranian-made drones it acquired from Tehran in August for use in its war with Ukraine.

Russia picked up Mohajer-6 and Shahed series UAVs over several days last month as part of what the Biden administration says is likely part of a Russian plan to acquire hundreds of Iranian UAVs for deployment in Ukraine.

North Korea has sought to cement ties with Russia, as has much of Europe, and the West has backed down, blaming the United States for the Ukraine crisis and using the West’s “hegemonic policies” as justification for Russian military action in denounced by Ukraine for its own protection.

The North Koreans have expressed an interest in sending construction workers to rebuild the Russian-held areas in the east of the country.

North Korea’s ambassador in Moscow recently met with envoys from two Russian-backed separatist areas in Ukraine’s Donbass region and expressed optimism about cooperation in the “area of ​​labor migration,” citing the easing of his country’s pandemic border controls.

In July, North Korea became the only nation alongside Russia and Syria to recognize the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts and continued to ally with Russia in the conflict in Ukraine.

The North’s arms exports to Russia would be in violation of UN resolutions banning the country from exporting arms to or importing from other countries. The possible sending of workers to Russian-held territories in Ukraine would also violate a UN resolution requiring all member states to repatriate all North Korean workers from their soil by 2019.

There have been suspicions that China and Russia have failed to fully enforce UN sanctions on North Korea, complicating a US-led attempt to deprive North Korea of ​​its nuclear weapons.

North Korea’s provocative move comes as the Biden administration is increasingly concerned about North Korea’s increased activities in the search for nuclear weapons.

North Korea has tested more than 30 ballistic missiles this year, including the first flights of ICBMs since 2017, while leader Kim Jong Un is pushing to advance its nuclear arsenal despite US-led pressure and sanctions.

The US has frequently downgraded and revealed intelligence findings over the course of the grueling war in Ukraine to highlight plans for Russian misinformation operations or draw attention to Moscow’s war-fighting difficulties. Ukraine’s smaller military has put up a fierce resistance to militarily superior Russian forces.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kim recently exchanged letters, both calling for “comprehensive” and “strategic and tactical” cooperation between the countries. For its part, Moscow has issued statements condemning the resumption this year of large-scale military exercises between the United States and South Korea, which North Korea sees as an invasion rehearsal.

Russia has joined China in calling for the UN sanctions on North Korea to be eased over its nuclear and missile tests. Both countries are members of the UN Security Council, which has approved a total of 11 rounds of sanctions against the North since 2006. profile rocket tests this year.

Some experts say Kim could likely strengthen his resolve to keep his nuclear weapons because he may believe the Russian attack happened because Ukraine signed up to its nuclear arsenal.

Moscow-Pyongyang relations date back to the founding of North Korea in 1948, when Soviet officials installed the young, ambitious nationalist Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Un’s late grandfather, as the country’s first ruler. Since then, Soviet aid shipments have been crucial to keeping North Korea’s economy afloat for decades before the breakup of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

Moscow had since established formal diplomatic ties with Seoul to attract South Korean investment and phased out its Soviet-era military alliance with North Korea. But after his election in 2000, Putin actively sought to restore his country’s ties with North Korea, in what was seen as an attempt to reclaim its traditional spheres of influence and attract more allies to better dealings with the United States.


Associated Press writers Hyung-jin Kim and Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul, South Korea contributed to this report.

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