The Russian Ministry of Defense is purchasing millions of rockets and artillery shells from North Korea for its ongoing fight in Ukraine, according to a new U.S. intelligence report.
The New York Times reported that a U.S. official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the intelligence determination, revealing that the fact Russia is turning to the isolated state of North Korea demonstrates that “the Russian military continues to suffer from severe supply shortages in Ukraine, due in part to export controls and sanctions.”
The report says U.S. intelligence officials believe that the Russians could look to purchase additional North Korean military equipment in the future.
The U.S. official did not detail how much weaponry Russia intends to purchase from North Korea.
The finding comes after the US recently confirmed that the Russian military in August took delivery of Iranian-manufactured drones for use on the battlefield in Ukraine.
The White House said last week that Russia has faced technical problems with Iranian-made drones acquired from Tehran in August for use in its war with Ukraine.
Russia picked up Mohajer-6 and Shahed-series unmanned aerial vehicles over several days last month as part what the Biden administration says is likely part of a Russian plan to acquire hundreds of Iranian UAVs for use in Ukraine.
In recent mo this, North Korea has increased relations with Russia as much of Europe and the West has pulled away, blaming the United States for the Ukraine crisis and decrying the West’s “hegemonic policy” as justifying military action by Russia in Ukraine to protect itself.
The North Koreans have also hinted interest in sending construction workers to help rebuild Russian-occupied territories in the country’s east.
North Korea’s ambassador to Moscow recently met with envoys from two Russia-backed separatist territories in the Donbas region of Ukraine and expressed optimism about cooperation in the “field of labor migration,”
Back in July, North Korea became the only nation aside from Russia and Syria to recognize the independence of Ukranian territories, Donetsk and Luhansk, further aligning with Russia over the conflict in Ukraine.
Ukraine immediately cut off all diplomatic ties with North Korea.
The North’s arms export to Russia would be a violation of U.N. resolutions that ban the country from exporting to or importing weapons from other countries. The dispatch of laborers to the Russian-held territories in Ukraine would also breach a U.N. resolution that required all member states to repatriate all North Korean workers from their soil by 2019.
The move increases suspicions that China and Russia haven’t fully enforced U.N. sanctions on North Korea, complicating a U.S.-led attempt to deprive North Korea of its nuclear weapons.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kim recently exchanged letters in which they both called 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.