Russia Now Has a New Arms Dealer

Purchase of artillery shells, rockets a sign of desperation, says US official
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 6, 2022 7:41 AM CDT
Russia Now Getting Weapons From North Korea
In this March 20, 2020, photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervises an artillery firing competition between army units in the country's west in North Korea.   (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

With global sanctions preventing Russia from seeking military equipment from its usual sources, the country has now turned to North Korea. Russia, which recently purchased Iranian drones, is now buying millions of artillery shells and short-range rockets from Pyongyang, according to US intelligence. It's a sign of what one US official tells the New York Times is "desperation in Moscow." While Russia's military has been having issues with high-tech weapons, like cruise missiles, this disclosure suggests it's also facing a shortage of the artillery shells that have allowed it to lay waste to Ukrainian cities.

"The Kremlin should be alarmed that it has to buy anything at all from North Korea," Mason Clark, head of the Russia team at the Institute for the Study of War, tells the Times, which notes the deal would violate UN resolutions that ban Pyongyang from importing or exporting weapons. "This is very likely an indication of a massive failure of the Russian military industrial complex that likely has deep roots and very serious implications for the Russian armed forces," adds military expert Frederick Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute. While China is so far not selling military components or equipment to Russia in accordance with export controls, North Korea, itself under sanctions, is more sympathetic.

Seeking to strengthen its relationship with Russia, it's blamed the US for the situation in Ukraine and described Russia's military action as justified for self-defense, per the Guardian. North Korea has also suggested it may send workers to rebuild Russian-occupied regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in Ukraine's east, which it recognizes as independent, in what would be another violation of UN resolutions, per the AP. Ukraine has been successful in destroying Russian ammunition caches in recent weeks. There are also signs that Russian artillery shells have lost some of their effectiveness "because of storage problems or poor maintenance," per the Times. (More Russia stories.)

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