US Says Russia Seeking Weapons From Impoverished North Korea

US authorities claim that Russia wants to purchase millions of rockets and artillery rounds from North Korea to use in its conflict with Ukraine, the latest indication that international sanctions are pressuring Moscow to turn to its smaller, poorer neighbour for assistance.

According to State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel, the decision to purchase the weapons showed that Russia "continues to suffer from significant supply shortages in Ukraine due in part to export controls and sanctions."

US authorities interpreted the purchase as evidence that Russia was having such difficulty supplying its military operations that it was forced to look to other pariah states. Director of the Central Intelligence Agency William Burns claimed in July that Russia had contacted Iran about purchasing weaponized drones.

In a move to thwart US-led efforts to isolate President Vladimir Putin, Russia has sought to deepen ties with its former Cold War partner. Due in part to international sanctions over Kim Jong Un's nuclear programme, which Russia supported as a member of the United Nations Security Council, North Korea is experiencing its worst economic downturn in decades.

According to the official Korean Central News Agency, Putin informed Kim in a message issued on North Korea's Independence Day last month that he wishes to develop "comprehensive and constructive bilateral ties."

One of the few nations that has recognised the Kremlin-run "People's Republics" in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk is North Korea, which connects to Russia through rail.

According to a Sept. 5 New York Times article, recently disclosed US information revealed that Russia was purchasing rockets and artillery shells. According to Pat Ryder, spokesman for the Pentagon, "that is emblematic of the scenario that Russia finds itself in, in terms of its logistical and sustainment capabilities as it relates to Ukraine."

The foreign ministry of South Korea stated that it was "closely monitoring Russia's probable purchase of North Korean weapons, and is currently communicating the subject with our major partners," adding that doing so would be against UN Security Council resolutions.

Uncertainty surrounds North Korea's ability to provide Russia with such numbers of munitions in a timely manner. However, according to Wang Son-taek, head of the Global Policy Center at the Han Pyeong Peace Institute in South Korea, the move runs the risk of undermining the UN sanctions regime against North Korea.

This might lessen the impact of economic sanctions against North Korea, according to Wang. "Only cooperation between the US, China, and Russia will make the sanction regime effective. It would eventually be detrimental to addressing the nuclear issue with North Korea.

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