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ConflictsNorth America

Ukraine: North Korea supplied weapons to Moscow, says US

October 13, 2023

North Korea has supplied Russia with weapons for the Kremlin's war on Ukraine, the White House says.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un shake hands during their meeting at the Vostochny cosmodrome
The United States alleges that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has provided Russia with munitionsImage: Vladimir Smirnov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP/picture alliance

The United States alleged on Friday that North Korea has delivered more than 1,000 containers of military equipment and munitions to Russia for its ongoing war in Ukraine, including ammunition, artillery shells and rockets.

The White House released images that it said show the containers were loaded onto a Russian-flagged ship before being transported via train to southwestern Russia.

The containers were shipped between Najin in northeastern North Korea and the Russian port of Dunay near Vladivostok from September 7 to October 1, according to the White House.

"We condemn [North Korea] for providing Russia with this military equipment, which will be used to attack Ukrainian cities, kill Ukrainian civilians, and further Russia's illegitimate war," White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said. 

"This expanding military partnership between [North Korea] and Russia, including any technology transfers from Russia to [North Korea], undermines regional stability and the global non-proliferation regime," he continued.

What have we heard from North Korea?

Speculation about possible North Korean plans to restock Russia's munition stores flared last month, when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un traveled to eastern Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin and visit key military sites.

During Kim's six-day trip to Russia, his longest foreign travel as a leader, the two countries said they discussed boosting their defense ties but didn't disclose any specific steps.

While in Russia, Kim said he deepened "comradely fellowship and friendly ties" with Putin, North Korean state media reported.

Following the meeting with Putin, Kim last month called for an exponential increase in production of nuclear weapons and for his country to play a larger role in a coalition of nations confronting the United States in a "new Cold War," according to North Korean state media.

The Korean Central News Agency said Kim made the comments during a two-day session of the country's rubber-stamp parliament, which amended the constitution to include his policy of expanding the country's nuclear weapons program.

White House spokesperson Kirby said that the US also believes Kim is seeking sophisticated Russian weapons technologies to boost North Korea's nuclear program — in return for munitions to replenish Russian stockpiles drained by the war in Ukraine.

The US says it will continue to enforce sanctions, expose the alleged arms deals, and make the case at the United Nations that the actions violate security council resolutions.

"We will continue to monitor for any additional [North Korean] arms shipments to Russia," Kirby said.

"We will not allow [North Korea] to aid Russia's war machine in secret. And the world should know about the support that Russia may again may provide [North Korea] in return."

mf/nm (AFP, AP)