U.S. Intelligence Reportedly Shows Russia Is Buying Weapons From North Korea

U.S. Intelligence Reportedly Shows Russia Is Buying Weapons From North Korea

Topline

Russia is buying weapons from North Korea for use on the battlefield in Ukraine, according to U.S. intelligence obtained by the New York Times and confirmed by other news outlets, a sign of Moscow’s growing international isolation as Putin taps rogue states to shore up struggling military supply lines.

Ukrainian artillery unit fires with a BM-27 Uragan, a self-propelled 220 mm multiple rocket … [+] launcher, near a frontline in Donetsk.

AFP via Getty Images

Key Facts

Russia is buying millions of artillery shells and rockets from North Korea to use in Ukraine, according to declassified intelligence obtained by the Times.

U.S. officials confirmed the Times’ reporting and said Moscow could be forced to buy additional weapons from Pyongyang in the future as the war continues.

The precise nature of the weapons deal, including its size, was not available from the declassified report, the Times said, and officials did not provide further details.

Government officials told the Times the purchases highlight Moscow’s desperation as international sanctions hamper its ability to wage war and sustain supply lines.

Another official, who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity, explained that the Russian military is still suffering from severe supply shortages, which are partly due to “export controls and sanctions.”

Key Background

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has isolated Russia on the international stage. While Russia still has powerful friends that are unwilling to condemn the invasion, that have opposed sanctions and continued to purchase Russian oil—notably China—few have been willing to openly help Moscow evade sanctions or procure weapons. Overtures to pariah states like North Korea and Iran—which reportedly sold Moscow drones for use in the war—highlight Russia’s ongoing supply struggles and the lengths it must go to resolve them, even as its economy largely weathers sanctions while driving up energy prices and inflation around the world.

Crucial Quote

Mason Clark, who leads the Russia team at the Institute for the Study of War, told the Times that “the Kremlin should be alarmed that it has to buy anything at all from North Korea.”

Further Reading

Russia Is Buying North Korean Artillery, According to U.S. Intelligence (NYT)

Russia’s Artillery Is Wearing Out And Blowing Up (Forbes)

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