North Korea is secretly shipping a “significant number” of artillery shells to Russia to support Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, US officials claim.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Wednesday that the United States believed North Korea was “trying to make it look like they were being sent to countries in the Middle East or North Africa. “.
He declined to provide an accurate estimate of the amount of munitions sent to support the Russian effort.
Kirby said North Korea is “secretly supplying” the ammunition to Russia but “we are still monitoring that to determine if the shipments are actually being received.”
He added that the United States had “an idea” of which country or countries the North might send the weapons through, but would not specify as the administration continues to consider how it might respond to Pyongyang’s actions.
Kirby insisted that the North Korean expeditions “will not change the tide of the war”, citing Western efforts to resupply the Ukrainian military.
The White House did not specify the mode of transportation or whether the United States or other countries would attempt to ban shipments to Russia.
The White House revealed the new intelligence nearly two months after it was first alleged that the United States had determined that the Russian Ministry of Defense was buying millions of rockets and artillery shells to North Korea for its ongoing fight in Ukraine.
Even though the administration has revealed information about secret artillery shell deliveries from Pyongyang, the White House should also downplay their significance.
‘We don’t believe they are in such quantity that they would change the direction of this war or tangibly alter the momentum to the east or south’, where some of Ukraine’s heaviest fighting is taking place , Kirby said.
Pyongyang and Tehran, Russia’s main sources of armaments
The discovery comes after the Biden administration said in August that the Russian military had taken delivery of hundreds of Iranian-made drones for use on the battlefield in Ukraine.
The Biden administration said Iran also sent personnel to Russian-controlled Crimea to provide technical support for the operation of the drones.
Meanwhile, Western authorities say Tehran plans to supply Russia with more weapons, including short-range surface-to-surface missiles, according to a CNN report on Wednesday.
Iranian officials have denied providing drones or other support to Russia.
North Korea has sought to tighten relations with Russia as much of the West has retreated, blaming the United States for the Ukraine crisis and decrying the country’s ‘hegemonic politics’. West as justifying Russian military action in Ukraine to protect itself.
The North Koreans have expressed interest in sending construction workers to help rebuild Russian-occupied territories in eastern Ukraine.
North Korea’s ambassador to Moscow met with envoys from two Moscow-occupied breakaway territories in Ukraine’s Donbass region and expressed optimism for cooperation in the ‘field of labor migration’ , citing his country’s relaxation of border controls in the event of a pandemic.
In July, North Korea became the only nation besides Russia and Syria to recognize the so-called independent territories – Donetsk and Lugansk – aligning itself more with Russia over the conflict in Ukraine.
Exporting weapons from the North to Russia would be a violation of UN resolutions that prohibit the country from exporting or importing weapons from other countries.
Its possible dispatch of workers to Russian-held territories in Ukraine would also violate a UN resolution that required all member states to repatriate all North Korean workers from their soil by 2019.