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Russia ‘in process’ of buying North Korean ammunition for Ukraine war, US says

Chairperson of the North Korean State Affairs Committee, Kim Jong Un (C), during a visit to a munitions factory in the country that produces an "important weapons system" days after North Korea conducted tests to reveal its new missiles in this photo released on Jan. 28, 2022. (Reuters File Photo)

US officials confirm media reports but give no indication DPRK has already shipped artillery shells and rockets.

Russia has asked North Korea for ammunition for use in the war in Ukraine, U.S. government officials said Tuesday, confirming media reports that Moscow seeks to purchase millions of DPRK rockets and artillery shells.

Spokespersons for the Defense and State Departments said Russia is in the process of purchasing the ammunition but did not indicate that North Korea has made any cross-border munitions shipments.

“We do have indications that Russia has approached North Korea to request ammunition,” Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a briefing on Tuesday, while declining to comment on whether Russia has already paid for the DPRK munitions or the exact type of ammunition that North Korea could provide.

“Certainly, as has been said, we assess that things are not going well on that front for Russia, so the fact that they’re reaching out to North Korea is a sign that they’re having some challenges on the sustainment front,” he added.

In a separate briefing the same day, State Department spokesperson Verdal Patel said the “Russian Ministry of Defense is in the process of purchasing millions of rockets and artillery shells from North Korea for use in Ukraine,” citing this as evidence that international sanctions imposed on Moscow are contributing to supply shortages.

The State Department also told NK News that “we expect Russia could try to purchase additional North Korean military equipment going forward.”

Tuesday’s statements confirm the basic facts of U.S. intelligence on Russia’s weapons procurement efforts, first reported by The New York Times on Monday and then by AP.

Jack Watling, a senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), told NK News that Moscow has specifically been seeking 152mm and 122mm howitzer artillery shells and that Pyongyang is able to provide large quantities of such munitions.

Joost Oliemans, an expert on North Korean military capabilities, said the DPRK would likely provide relatively new ammunition “produced on order or from their existing stocks.”

“If this story is indeed true, we might expect to see videos verifying the presence of North Korean munitions in Ukraine over the coming months,” he said.

Later in the day, the Russian state news agency Tass reported that Moscow’s permanent representative to the U.N. Vasily Nebenzya dismissed media reports about Russia buying DPRK ammunition, calling them “another fake circulated.”

Source : Korea Risk Group



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