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Russia Resupplying Arms Through North Korea

Russia is resupplying its arms arsenal by buying from North Korea, according to U.S. intelligence services.

Reuters reports that U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel revealed in a news briefing on Tuesday, September 6th, that Russia “is in the process of purchasing millions of rockets and artillery shells from North Korea for use in Ukraine.”

The official statement from the White House follows a report published the day before by the New York Times citing sources from within U.S. intelligence services saying that it had learned that Western sanctions and export controls on Russia in reaction to President Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine had pushed the country to seek military equipment and arms from North Korea. 

Russia had already received its first shipment of drones from Iran last week.

According to Reuters, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby partly ameliorated the initial message a short time later, stating there were “no indications that that purchase has been completed and certainly no indications that those weapons are being used inside of Ukraine.”He did, however, affirm reports that Russia was seeking hefty restocking of its armament from North Korea.

“Our sense is it could include literally millions of rounds, rockets and artillery shells from North Korea. That’s what our information gives us—it could be on that scale,” he said, though he also said the purchase had not been confirmed yet.

Kirby added it was “just another indication of how desperate Putin’s becoming … It’s an indication of how much his defence industrial establishment is suffering as a result of this war and the degree of desperation.”

The purchase was expected not only because sanctions had been limiting Russia’s ability to replace vehicles and weapons destroyed in Ukraine, but also because Ukraine’s recently launched counter offensive has diminished Russia’s stash of arms. Russia will likely continue to buy arms from North Korea, according to U.S. sources.

Bridget Ryder is Spain-based writer. She has written on politics, environment, and culture for American and international publications. She holds degrees in Spanish and Catholic Studies.