US: Russia to buy missiles and artillery shells from North Korea

WASHINGTON (AP) — Russia’s Defense Ministry is purchasing millions of missiles and artillery shells from North Korea for its ongoing battle in Ukraineaccording to a recently downgraded finding from U.S. intelligence.

A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the intelligence agency’s determination, said on Monday that Russia’s turning to the isolated state of North Korea shows that “the Russian military continues to suffer from severe supply shortages in Ukraine, as as a result of participating in export controls and sanctions.”

US intelligence agencies believe that the Russians could consider purchasing additional North Korean military equipment in the future. The intelligence discovery was first reported by The New York Times.

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

The finding comes after the Biden administration recently confirmed that the Russian military took delivery of Iran-manufactured drones for use on the battlefield in Ukraine in August.

The White House said last week that Russia has faced technical problems with Iranian-made drones bought from Tehran in August for use in its war with Ukraine.

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

North Korea has tried to tighten relations with Russia much of Europe and the West have withdrawn, blaming the United States for the crisis in Ukraine and dismissing the West’s “hegemonic policies” as a justification for Russia’s military action in Ukraine to protect itself.

North Koreans have hinted they want to send construction workers to help rebuild Russian-occupied territories in the east of the country.

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

In July, North Korea became the only country, apart from Russia and Syria, to recognize the independence of the Donetsk and Luhansk territories, further joining Russia over the conflict in Ukraine.

North Korea’s provocative move comes as the Biden administration becomes increasingly concerned about North Korea’s ramped-up activity in the pursuit of nuclear weapons.

North Korea has tested more than 30 ballistic missiles this year, including the first intercontinental ballistic missile flights since 2017, as leader Kim Jong Un pushes to increase its nuclear arsenal despite US-led pressure and sanctions.

The US has often downgraded and disclosed intelligence findings over the course of the protracted war in Ukraine to draw attention to plans for Russian disinformation operations or to draw attention to Moscow’s difficulties in prosecuting terrorists. the war. Ukraine’s smaller army has firmly resisted the militarily superior Russian forces.

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

Russia, along with China, has called for the easing of UN sanctions imposed on North Korea over its nuclear and missile tests. Both countries are members of the UN Security Council, which has approved a total of 11 sanctions against the north since 2006. In May, Russia and China vetoed a US-led effort to impose new economic sanctions on North Korea over its high profile missile tests this year.

Some experts say Kim could probably bolster his decision to keep his nuclear weapons, as he may think the Russian attack happened because Ukraine signed up to its nuclear arsenal.

Relations between Moscow and Pyongyang 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, transporting aid across the Soviet Union had been critical to sustaining North Korea’s economy for decades before the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s.

Moscow had since established formal diplomatic relations with Seoul as part of its hopes to attract South Korean investment and let its Soviet-era military alliance with North Korea expire. But after his election in 2000, Putin actively sought to re-establish his country’s ties with North Korea in what was seen as an attempt to regain his traditional domains of influence and find more allies to deal better with the United States.

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

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