Russia Plans On Buying Millions Of Artillery Shells From North Korea: REPORT

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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Russia is reportedly planning to purchase millions of artillery rounds from North Korea, an event some analysts take as a sign Western sanctions have crippled the Russian war effort, according to The New York Times.

Recently declassified American intelligence documents show that Russia is in the process of obtaining short-range rockets and artillery shells from North Korea and may complete additional transfers of North Korean military hardware in the future, the NYT reported. Officials said that Western sanctions and export controls had succeeded in hindering Russia’s ability to procure defense equipment, forcing the Kremlin to look to North Korea to replenish munitions stocks.

“We assess that things are not going well on that front for Russia,” Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said a briefing Tuesday, referring to Russia’s sustainment capabilities, The Associated Press reported.

The intelligence does not specify the exact weaponry or munitions included in the sale, or when it is supposed to take place, the NYT reported. While Western sanctions have not crippled Russia’s economy yet, mostly due to soaring global energy prices and increased oil and gas exports to Asia, Russia has seen its ability to purchase weaponry and advanced electronics components significantly diminished.

“The only reason the Kremlin should have to buy artillery shells or rockets from North Korea … is because Putin has been unwilling or unable to mobilize the Russian economy for war,” Frederick W. Kagan, a military expert at the American Enterprise Institute, told the NYT.

Matthew Zweig, an expert in sanctions and illicit finance at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, is less certain the report signifies a success of U.S. sanctions. “It’s a compelling data point,” he told the Daily Caller News Foundation, but it should be considered in light of “substantial” trade between Russia and North Korea in sanctioned and non-sanctioned goods predating the war.

United Nations Resolution 1874 prohibits weapons transfers with North Korea, and subsequent resolutions expanded the embargo to include small arms and dual-use technologies. (RELATED: China Is Quietly Supplying Russia’s War Machine In Ukraine: REPORT)

In July, Russia turned to another sanctioned country, Iran, for weapons-capable drones, a move U.S. officials called another example of its desperation to restock munitions and the shrinking list of international partners from which the Kremlin can ask for help.

A Wall Street Journal analysis of Chinese customs data in July showed that semiconductor exports to Russia had doubled in May, months after the invasion of Ukraine, and that other commodities with military applications had increased as well. However, U.S. officials said that China has so far abided by export controls on defense and related equipment, and Chinese officials have denied sending weapons to Russia, the NYT reported.

In addition, in June, the U.S. Commerce Department blacklisted five Chinese electronics companies accused of supporting Russia’s military.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan in July highlighted the enormous price Russia is paying in weapons and equipment to sustain marginal progress in eastern Ukraine, depleting its vast stores of artillery.

The Russian foreign ministry did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.

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